ENCINITAS – They weren’t working under the darkness of night. There was no signal overhead beaconing for their help.
They were acting on their own all in the hopes of a making a difference in the community.
A band of three costumed crime fighters were spotted patrolling Encinitas in response to a recent potential kidnapping in the area.
Mr. Xtreme, Vigilante Spider and Divine Force, as they call themselves, took to the streets of Encinitas, mainly focusing on Saxony Road Friday. The three are part of the Xtreme Justice League (San Diego Chapter) a league that patrols all of San Diego County.
“We’re going to start working Encinitas and then we’re going to start getting more into different communities in the North County,” said Mr. Xtreme. While they patrol areas of the county on a rotational basis, the team was in Encinitas trying to inform people about the Dec. 31 attempted kidnapping, where an 18-year-old woman was pulled into a truck, but able to fight off her attackers and run to a nearby residence to call for help.
“These guys could be anywhere in the North County,” said Mr. Xtreme. “We’re going to try to get these goons’ faces out there, so hopefully somebody recognizes these guys and calls it in to the Sheriff’s department.”
Clad in a bulletproof vest, which he modified with green paint, a green crash helmet and eyewear to conceal his identity, Mr. Xtreme joined the League wanting to make a difference in the community, he said, adding that he had grown tired of all the apathy and indifference and violent victimization he was seeing.
For about six years he’s been with the Xtreme Justice League. He’s armed with non-lethal weapons, as he emptied his camouflaged cargo pants, showing: handcuffs; a stun gun flashlight, pepper blaster; pepper spray gun; a two-way radio and a first aid kit.
“We do our own training,” he said. “We train in martial arts weekly and we do scenario training and then we train our members in citizens’ arrest procedures, and how to use less-lethal weapons and verbal de-escalation skills,” he added.
“There are two things that we’re going to be focusing on for a little while, we’re going to be focusing on the mid-city area of San Diego, and then we’re going to be getting back into the North County area,” Mr. Extreme said.
At this point, the League hasn’t had much interaction with the Sheriff’s department, he explained. “In areas where it’s patrolled by the Sheriff’s it’s still kind of new to us.”
But they do have interactions with the San Diego police and other law enforcement agencies in the county. “Hopefully, down the line, if we start getting into more areas that’s patrolled by the Sheriff’s, we’d like to try and set up a meeting with them and see how we can assist them,” Mr. Xtreme said.
They do give the local agencies a courtesy call to let them know they’re patrolling the areas.
The new Encinitas Sheriff’s station Capt. Robert Haley said he was aware of them patrolling in the city, and that he was a little bit familiar with League and their work in San Diego. He said he didn’t have problem with them patrolling and passing out pamphlets.
“I think they’re more, ‘spread the word,’ is what they’re doing now…We’re not against it. If they’re eyes and ears out there for us, we’re all for that. It doesn’t matter what they’re dressed in,” he said.
With the possibility of the League increasing their presence in the North County, Haley said he didn’t think that would become a distraction.
“It’s like neighborhood watch or anything else.…
“Our crime prevention folks work with a variety of neighborhood watch organizations and other folks to do just what they’re doing, whether it’s pass the word or observe and report, which is, I assume, what they’re doing right now.”
Haley added that he applauds them for what they’re doing.
“We have nothing against it,” Haley said. “It is interesting that they’re dressed creatively, I guess. I applaud them for what they’re doing. We haven’t heard anything negative about it. If we do, we’ll address it at that time but I don’t think, at this point, they’re doing anything outside of their rights as citizens of the community, which again, we applaud.”
The public response, Mr. Xtreme said, has been pretty positive lately, too. “In the early days, when we first started about six years ago, it was a little bit more of a challenge. People weren’t as receptive. But the public, in general, seem like they’re more supportive of our efforts.
“Because we’re here to stay; we’re not going anywhere. Not until there’s no more violent crime; when there’s no more violent crime, then we’ll think about doing something else.”
As for the bad guys, he said, “they get offended by us being out there, but that’s pretty normal.”
Apart from patrolling the streets for bad guys, Vigilante Spider, who’s been with the League for about four years, but an independent crime fighter for about a decade, said they also do outreach in the community.
“As far as safety patrols, we do a lot of that,” said the red-masked man. “We do a lot of homeless outreach; we do a lot of community outreach, so it’s not just about one thing or the other. But right now, our focus is to get information about (the potential kidnappers). That is our objective today.”
Wearing a purple mask that half-covered his face, Divine Force was still getting familiar with the costumed patrols. “When I started out, I didn’t really have any skill sets,” he said. “But these guys…they just really took me under their wing and helped me out to get familiar with this,” Divine Force said. His name, he said, comes from his religiosity and also because it “sounded cool.”
Since joining the League, a little more than a year ago (he was still in high school at the time) he’s seen his fair share of bad guys. “Lot of drunken brawls in the Gaslamp, some gang threats, some attacks. Mainly down in the Gaslamp, people get rowdy,” he said.
On this patrol he was carrying pepper spray and a radio. Normally, he explained, he carries two stun guns, but added that he was pretty light on the equipment side.
Divine Force joined the League after being inspired by a documentary on real-life superhero movement called, “Superheroes.”
“I saw that, and I didn’t know that existed and it just seemed like a really cool idea,” he said.
The band of crime preventers planned to walk through Encinitas Friday and over the weekend, too, with possible plans to be heading to another North County city in the following weeks handing out flyers and talking with citizens.
“It really just comes down to being vigilant and contacting as many people as we can,” Vigilante Spider said.
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