The Alliance of Guardian Angels is an international public safety organization which promotes citizen involvement in public safety issues in major cities all over the world. The organization leads workshops and trainings in vulnerable communities, and members lead street patrols which are designed to reduce the level of criminal activity. In some regions, the Guardian Angels have been viewed as controversial, with civic leaders opposing the establishment of Guardian Angels chapters in their areas. Other civic leaders have endorsed the organization's presence.
Curtis Sliwa founded the organization in 1979 in New York City during a marked increase in crime. Members of the Alliance of Guardian Angels started out by sending out pairs of Guardian Angels to walk “beats” throughout the city, making the presence of the organization known on the streets and in the subways. The Guardian Angels initially promoted citizen's arrests, and now more generally focuses on increasing public safety by making community volunteers highly visible to deter criminals.
Before Guardian Angels can walk a beat, they receive training in dealing with law enforcement, deescalating situations, communicating, working in diverse communities, and self defense. The organization prides itself on being highly inclusive: anyone over the age of 16 may join the Guardian Angels, and the group promotes diversity. While on patrol, Guardian Angels wear distinctive red berets and white shirts or red jackets which feature the logo of the organization. Volunteers always work in pairs for safety reasons.
In addition to offering community-based initiatives, the Alliance of Guardian Angels also has a CyberAngels division, which deals with cyberbullying and other illegal online activities. The group leads workshops in schools and communities to address online safety issues, and it works actively with similar organizations to offer cyberbullying coursework and related materials to teachers. CyberAngels dates to 1995, reflecting the organization's early interest in protecting Internet users, especially children.
Sometimes, the presence of these unarmed safety patrollers is all it takes for the crime rate in a community to go down. The Guardian Angels have also dispatched themselves to specific communities in need, responding to violence or public safety issues when they flare up. The Alliance of Guardian Angels is one among many public safety organizations which promote the idea that members of the public can and should be involved in safety initiatives, and that the best way to ensure safety is with the use of large numbers of volunteers and a no-tolerance policy for crime.