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Monday, February 10, 2014

Citizens Police Academy Week Two -- Police Department Volunteers

We had our second Citizens Police Academy class last Thursday and learned all about the work performed by dozens upon dozens of community volunteers who assist with Pasadena Police Department operations.

The riders in the photo above are members of the Mounted Volunteers Unit that patrols the Arroyo Seco to report everything from suspicious activity to hikers in need of medical assistance. Police cars cannot navigate into many areas of the arroyo, including hillsides, the streambed, etc. The mounted volunteers bear the cost of their own horses and all the boarding and care this entails. Each of them carries a radio that keeps them connected to the Dispatch Center and sworn patrol officers. Be sure to thank them when you see them down there!

Each Pasadena Police Department volunteer goes through intensive training in his or her specific area of interest and is required to put in a mandatory minimum number of hours each month.

Having more than 100 active volunteers in a police department for a city of less than 140,000 people is unheard of anywhere else. They perform vital functions, taking a big load off sworn police officers who otherwise would be torn in 10 different directions at once. Each volunteer unit is supervised by a sworn officer or detective, depending on the nature of the work.

Take, for instance, volunteers in the Missing Persons Unit. The minute an officer or detective receives a call from a concerned family member, group home or anyone else and completes initial paperwork, each case is handed over to a volunteer (such as the one in the above photo) who makes the phone calls to anyone and everyone who may be able to provide a lead. This sometimes requires hours and days and sometimes weeks, but these dedicated volunteers stay on each case until it can be closed.

Volunteers in the Identity Theft Unit spend all the necessary time required for what is often painstaking, detailed investigations to solve these cases. In the event (God forbid) you find yourself a victim of identity theft, you can trust that you'll be in good hands.

Rev. Robert "Father Bob" Gaestel, rector of the Church of the Angels , is one of many volunteer chaplains for the Pasadena Police Department. He spoke to us Thursday about the role of the chaplains, including accompanying police officers to assist with notification of deaths and suicides, assisting with victims, witnesses and others in crisis situations and so much more.

For a three-day period that includes New Year's Day, Pasadena Police Department volunteers work in the Parade Watch program, talking to people in parked RVs about the importance of reporting any suspicious activity to police immediately. The volunteers also inform them about the specifics of the overnight parking ordinance for streets within one block of the Rose Parade route (for example, RVs are subject to search) and placing a Parade Watch decal on the lower left window of each RV. The cooperation of the public in helping with security efforts is part of what makes the Rose Parade a safe event.

And volunteers help out at Pasadena Police Department special events, such as this heliport open house in 2011. That's police volunteer David Kilgore next to me when I was the Pasadena PIO.

There are volunteer opportunities in at least a dozen additional units and offices.

I took the photo of Father Bob. Many thanks to the Pasadena Police Department, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Altadena Blog for the other photos.

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