Recently, the Surprise Police Department’s Volunteer Program won the 2015 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Law Enforcement Volunteer Programs.
The comprehensive volunteer program consists of citizens participating as members of the Surprise Citizen’s Patrol, Victim Assistance Unit, chaplains, reserve police officers, interns and other volunteers such as those serving in the Records Unit, Training/Recruitment Unit and the Professional Standards Unit.
“The police are the public and the public are the police.” When Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing, spoke these words, it is unlikely that even he could have imagined the selfless acts of the Surprise Police Department’s volunteers. The fine men and women that make up the Surprise Police Department’s volunteer program are a true representation of Sir Robert Peel’s words.
The Citizen’s Patrol has grown from 7 volunteers in 1997 to 50 active program participants today. The program was established to assist the Surprise Police Department in responding to the City’s 1000% growth rate over the past 16 years. Having grown into its role as an integral part of the Department, the Citizen’s Patrol volunteers carry out many operational and administrative functions. In 2014 alone, the volunteers from the Citizen’s Patrol provided 26,483 volunteer hours. That is the equivalent of nearly 13 full-time employees and an estimated cost avoidance of $662,000.
There are very few functions that the Citizen’s Patrol members do not have some involvement in. On any given day, you will likely see numerous volunteers working within the Surprise Police Department; whether it be the day-to-day activities such as going out on patrol, conducting vacation watches and making sure vital police equipment is ready for deployment; or the less common events like traffic control for spring training baseball games, rapid response for emergency incidents and deployment of SWAT vehicles.
The members of the Surprise Citizens Patrol are part of a larger group of auxiliary volunteers here at the Surprise Police Department. These are members of our community who have given up their own time and energy to make their community a safer and better place for all, having done so for over 18 years. The overall effort of these hardworking volunteers has amounted to more than 280,000 volunteer hours for an estimated cost savings of over $7 million.
While these numbers are substantial, what is even more important is the immeasurable positive impact these volunteers have had on their community. Because of the volunteers, the agency navigated an extremely difficult expansion period with relative ease. As a result, our volunteers, who exist as both citizens and members of the department, also serve as a bridge between the Police Department and the public, further strengthening the agency’s roots within the community and helping to develop trust and cooperation from our residents.
The volunteers in the Victim Assistance Unit provide a continuum of services to support victims of crime and empower them to exercise their rights. Volunteers from this unit assist with obtaining orders of protection, accompanying victims to court, transporting victims for forensic and/or medical examinations, and finding temporary housing for victims in need. In 2014, the volunteers in this unit alone provided an additional 1,245 volunteer hours to assist with some 824 cases and provided direct services to 607 victims.
Our Chaplains always make themselves available for call-outs and respond to assist citizens with grief counselling. They provide timely motivational support for our Department and complete a myriad of other helpful tasks that lend support to our overall mission.
Reserve Police Officers fill in gaps that otherwise might create operational challenges. The unpaid service of these volunteers allows for maximum efficiency in both day-to-day operations as well as during special events.
Interns within the Surprise Police Department fill a wide variety of roles and allow for a direct communication of the Surprise Police Department’s philosophy and mission to educational institutions within our city and partnering communities.
Records Unit volunteers provide additional support for the unit by sorting and filing departmental reports. They also complete time-sensitive data entry projects that allow the Records Unit personnel to continue to meet important deadlines.
Training and Recruitment Unit volunteers routinely donate countless hours conducting background interviews and are deeply rooted in many facets involved in the hiring process with the Surprise Police Department.
The volunteers in the Professional Standards Unit complete interview transcripts and perform a variety of administrative tasks and functions. Their efforts relieve the daily responsibilities placed upon the investigators within the unit and allow for them to focus their own efforts on their assigned administrative investigations.
The members of the Surprise Police Department’s Volunteer Program have truly become an integral part of the DNA that makes up our organization. The support provided by these men and women ultimately plays a key role in the Department’s mission to maintain a safe community by providing extraordinary law enforcement customer service. Their hard work, dedication and exemplary efforts are inspiring and truly deserving of the 2015 IACP Outstanding Achievement in Law Enforcement Volunteer Programs Award.