Steamboat Police volunteer program in full swing
The Steamboat Springs Police Department’s first volunteer program, Volunteers in Police Service, is barely a month old, but is already seeing traction.
“We know not everyone has the time to become a police officer, but many are interested in helping our team and our city,” Police Chief Sherry Burlingame said in a press release.
Five volunteers have joined the VIPS program, according to Jamie Malone, the executive assistant to the chief of police, two of which are actively volunteering and another three are in the onboarding process.
Malone said SSPD has tried different volunteer programs in the past, but they either failed to get off the ground or were very short-lived.
Committing to a new volunteer program was Burlingame’s idea, according to Malone, as Steamboat’s Chief of Police has a lot of experience working for larger departments with robust volunteer programs. The implementation of the VIPS program, however, was Malone’s responsibility.
“Sherry said ‘I want you to look into this,’ and handed it off to me,” Malone said. “I did a bunch of research with three or four other departments and kind of put the framework together. Then we started advertising it.”
Malone describes the demographic of volunteers as mostly a mix of retirees and college-age residents.
The VIPS program asks for at least four hours a week to assist in patrols, records and evidence.
Patrol assistants would provide general support for patrol functions such as inputting demographic data, transporting vehicles to fleet for maintenance, organizational tasks in the garage and storage areas, and helping book evidence.
Evidence technician assistants help rotate evidence inventory, preparing evidence or destroying evidence that is approved for disposal, scanning and disposal of documents, researching information for case depositions and special projects.
Records assistants perform clerical and records related tasks and assist the public in person and/or on the phone. Communicating with businesses and other law enforcement and government agencies is also a duty of records assistants.
Malone said the department understands volunteers don’t want to be stuck with busy work.
“Their time is valuable,” Malone said. “Some days you win the lottery and you get to do something different, and other days you’re shredding.”
Applicants are required to complete an application, interview, records check, background interview and provide fingerprints as part of the background process before being selected.
Applicants must also have a high school diploma or GED, hold a valid driver’s license or identification card and be at least 18 years old, while some assignments require a minimum age of 21 years.
If selected, volunteers will go through orientation including a facility tour, security briefing, records overview, equipment training and ride along with a patrol. Volunteers will also be required to pass the Criminal Justice Information Services test, which Malone said is nothing to be intimidated by.
“It’s a video,” Malone said. “It is not super difficult.”
Malone said the test mostly asks questions about the rules and laws for handling confidential information in various scenarios. While volunteers won’t have credentials to, say, look up their neighbor’s license plate, Malone says there are still security rules that need to be enforced.
“Sometimes people have stuff on their desk,” Malone said. “You have to be aware that’s confidential. You can’t go out to coffee with your friends and tell them about what you saw.”
More information is available at steamboatsprings.net/VIPS. Anyone interested in joining VIPS should contact Jamie Malone at 970-879-4344.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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