Police volunteer team helping to solve city wide issues and community response
SANTA BARBARA, Calif .– After being sidelined due to coronavirus restrictions, members of the Volunteers in Policing (VIP) are back on track again.
Wearing a different uniform than sworn officers, but displaying the authority of a badge, the crew is mainly on foot to speak to citizens, business owners, attend community meetings, help in the service hall. police and responding to emergency traffic control needs.
The position is unpaid, no prior police experience is required. Recruitment and training are underway.
VIP Director Howie Giles is a former Reserve Officer and helps place recruits in areas where they may have specific strengths.
VIPs have been in service since 2017. In the first year, they spent approximately 3,000 hours in service.
They work primarily downtown and along the waterfront, but expand to areas across the city as needed.
On a typical day, VIPs will educate smokers about the city’s anti-smoking policy, offer assistance to the homeless and prevent sidewalk camping, and remind cyclists in Block 500 to operate. their bike as required in this area. “And that’s how we can help the community and prevent accidents and disasters in some cases,” Giles said.
Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale says: “They are very useful in reminding community members of certain rules and regulations, certain municipal code violations that can occur and that they can handle at their level.”
There is also regular contact with business and property owners for feedback, which they have received from an owner who has a persistent problem.
“The homeless, transients and the unstable population,” said Dan Baham of O’Malley’s Bar. “But you learn to navigate through it and to negotiate with them.”
Hearing about this issue, VIP Officer Dale Kunkel told Baham: “You don’t know if they are just sleeping and didn’t get enough rest last night or had a heart attack. which we answer yes. “
Baham said, “nice to see you again!” “
Giles says off the street, “We work with the Detective Office and help them and we work on special events and I think our roles are expanding.”
You will see VIPs on traffic control duties and answering questions either at the police station or outside.
“In the near future, when we fully open the hall, they will help members of the community and who might have questions on how to pay a parking ticket, file a police report and they have been very helpful,” Ragsdale said.
VIPs can also be essential in gathering details from eyewitnesses to assist frontline officers at crime scenes.
These volunteers come from all walks of life and do not need previous law enforcement experience to be a valuable part of the team.
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