Its like this, the Guard sweeps through this ward two times a day, and one sweep after lights out. They are looking for shady types, known guild members, beggars outside of their allowed areas, that sort of thing. There are at least two wart coats, sometimes as many as five. Depends on how much trouble they are expecting. After dark, they carry stuff a bit nastier than truncheons.
The Old Guard
It was an open secret that the city guard was previously so infested with corruption and thieve's guild agents that it was almost a branch of that criminal enterprise. For the most part the rich and the nobles really didn't care so long as the thieves stayed out of their lofty manors and palaces. So long as there were plenty of craftsmen and laborers for them to bully and rob, well, thats just part and parcel for being in the middle. Rich or poor, they said, pick a side.
Half of the patrolmen were on the take, shaking down merchants and locals for protection money. Those that didn't pay the guard paid the thieves. It just boiled down to who they hated more, they would pay off the other. Just to keep things looking good, the guard and the guild would mix things up, rough up some new recruits on both sides, take out each others problems. It worked well, too well.
It wasn't overnight, but the breaking point was reached. A local mob was roused after a series of violent beatings and ransacked property and instead of going after the criminals, the mob stormed one of the guard's barracks. Seems some of the people hit had paid their protection money, but the men who collected forgot to tell their higher ups. No honor among thieves as the expression goes. The mob stirred into a riot, and was not put down for several days. After the event, the captain of the guard, a corpulent and greedy man, had been hung from his own gallows and the most visibly corrupt of his officers and patrolmen were forced into stockades or the cramped gaol under the barracks.
While not a saint at the time of the uprising, Astunomos had been a city guardsman who had retired from the service after an impeccable carreer to join the clergy. He was as tireless in his late calling to the gods as he had been in pounding cobblestones in his old pimple coat. He was remembered for his stern, but fair hand, and while holding to the laws, both of man and god, he also had a small streak of compassion.
After the riots, several guardsmen who had been either trained by Astunomos the Guardsman or had been cared for by Deacon Astunomos decided to revive his memory. They created between then the Society of St. Astunomos, though at its inception it was only the Sociaty of Astunomos. They identified themselves from the common guards by adding simple white piping to their patrol coat sleeves. It became a matter of prestige among the members to keep both their gear, and themselves well groomed and well behaved.
The Society had few friends at the beginning, as the guards were still hated after the riots were quelled. A new captain was appointed, and was then tasked with rebuilding both the guard in terms of manpower, but also in terms of reputation among the populace. This was a tall order as many of the corrupt guards were still in service as there was no evidence that could be presented against them. The populace simmered while the corruption and graft took a long lull. No need to rush back into dirty hands and dirty deeds. To these old wolves looking to fleece the flock again, the Society was a troublesome camp of annoying do-gooders. The sort of guardsmen who would have been handed over to the thieves guild to be made messages of.
A New Chapter
While some of the old guard started to revert to their old ways, the Society started making friends. Some of the merchants noticed the guards with the white stripe on their sleeves didn't press them for protection money, or bribes, or anything else. They did their patrols, they caught the pick-pockets, and the petty thieves. Instead of beating the tar out of the beggars, they gave them a few coins and escorted them out of the merchant district.
Then, things got ugly. A few society members were assaulted, beaten, and given a warning to cease their silly little games. While nominally a fraternity of brothers with a common goal, one of the members stood and invoked the name of their patron, asking him for inspiration and guidance. Sometimes, just as the old guardsman had joined the clergy, does a clergyman give up the cloth to carry the truncheon. The Society agreed and elected Brother Danald as their first Master. Danald prayed and recieved guidance. Rather than promoting violence against violence, they reached out to the merchants who suffered from the other guards.
Working on their off hours, the Society and some private recruits started cutting off the other guards dirty money. Those that didnt watch store fronts and patrol private wards started hunting members of the thieve's guild. It was well known that despite being a good cop and later holy man, that Astunomos had no aversion to knocking a few heads when the time came to it.