With many public safety agencies feeling the pinch from recent budget cuts volunteers become a vital asset when providing service to the community. It's a job that at times may be overlooked or not get the credit it deserves; men and women volunteering their time to keep their community safe. The Paradise VIPS (Volunteers In Police Service), like many police volunteers, help with everything from checking on homes of residents that are out of town to providing traffic control when there's hazards on the roadways.
"We're looking for anything out of the ordinary, people walking down the street that look like they don't belong or look suspicious," says Paradise Police volunteer Chuck Topalian.
VIPS can also opt to stay close to the station to man the front desk or help with records, services the police department needs and relies on the VIPS for. With recent layoffs in the department, police officials say they're in need of volunteers now more than ever to provide extra sets of eyes on the streets. One position was cut in November, leaving police with only 14 officers. Now they're hopeful that more people will step forward to volunteer.
Lt. Al Billington, who oversees the VIPS program says, "As our pool of employees are reduced because of budgetary issues we rely more and more on VIPS to help us provide service."
Many of the VIPS say the reason they do it is simple; they want to give back to community.
"It just feels good at the end of the day that you went out and helped the community, and they appreciate it. That's our satisfaction when they say thank you," says Topalian.
A training course for new VIPS is scheduled to happen in spring. If you'd like to learn more about the VIPS program or are interested in volunteering, you're asked to call Paradise Police.