I thinks its a great idea. They should be allowed to do anything (with in the confines of the law) that they feel necessary to protect their neighborhood. I highly doubt that these men are going to go out of their way to try and prevent crime. More than likely they will patrol the streets with a cell phone in hand and report crime. Personally, I would love to have neighbors that cared enough about my neighborhood that they were willing to patrol the streets making sure me or my property wasnt being victimized.
Yep, the line between "concerned citizen looking to reduce crime" and "vigilante" is often whether or not they do so within the confines of the law. Assuming these guys get permits and use their weapons only within the confines of California law (which I'm guessing
would largely turn them into a roving neighborhood watch who are armed only as an absolute last resort for self-defense) then super.
The article in the OP doesn't give me much hope that this is or will be the case, though.
And talking about billing the city? Probably the most asinine thing I've read all week.