CITIZENS ON PATROL: Police dept. looking for volunteers to help cops
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

July 7, 2006 -- Ever wondered how the judicial system works, or thought you could be a good asset to the police department but weren't prepared to commit to the training and becoming an officer full-time? Or maybe you just wanted to do something to help Sulphur Springs' men and women in blue, but weren't sure how.

Those are exactly the types of people Sulphur Springs Police Department hopes to recruit for its newest project, Volunteers On Patrol, individuals willing to contribute eight or more hours a month to help police.

"Since I've been here, I've talked to different people on the phone who ask 'What can I do?' This is something they can do," SSPD Chief Jim Bayuk said Friday morning.

"This is a program to get people together and to see if they want to volunteer to the police department and throughout the community," Bayuk explained. "They might patrol neighborhoods. If they they see someone suspicious they call it in by radio and get officers there. They are extra eyes and ears out there."

Volunteers would be required to perform one of a number of tasks, including patrolling the community for criminal activity and safety hazards, then alerting patrol officers or the appropriate authority via police radio. Among other duites, they will also perform vacation house watch checks, business safety checks, participate in neighborhood watch program, help out with traffic control, alert officers of disabled parking violations, and assist officers with special events such as parades.

"Volunteers might do clerical work at the station or greet people in the front lobby," Bayuk said. "They might help out at the city animal shelter by assisting animal control officers in feeding, cleaning out cages and other things for the animals. This is to get people involved in the community and to help out on patrol."

Volunteers will be furnished with a shirt and pants clearly identifying them as SSPD's Volunteers On Patrol, provided a police radio during patrols as needed, and possibly a vehicle -- not a police car -- to make neighborhood patrols.

While VOPs will be assisting the police, they should note that they will not be acting police officers, merely assistance to officers.

Those applying for the VOP program must be at least 21 years old, pass a thorough background check, complete a 24 hour Community Emergency Response Team training session and 16 hours of VOP training, and be willing to commit to serving eight hours a month.

Among the topic to be covered in the Community Emergency Response Team training will be disaster preparedness, fire safety, first aid, search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism and the National Incident Management System. The topics to be covered during the VOP training session will include police department policies and procedures, ethics, radio communications, traffic and  crowd control, defensive driving and patrol tactics, disabled parking violations, Sky-Warn storm spotting and cultural diversity.

Those interested in taking part in the VOP program or who want more information about it are asked to attend a meeting at 7 p.m. on July 25 at Sulphur Springs Library to obtain basic information pertaining to the course and to get an application. Anyone not able to attend the session but who is interested may contact either Bayuk or Lt. Rex Morgan, who will be serving as volunteer coordinator, at the police department, 903-885-7602.

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