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Community action: seniors as police volunteers.

COMMUNITY ACTION: Seniors as police volunteers "More money, more manpower," runs the refrain, as residents in rapidly growing Western communities seek to fill pressing needs for increased law enforcement.

As an alternative to budget and personnel increase, a handful of towns have turned to volunteers, drawing from the expanding senior segment of the population. Early programs in which seniors have assumed certain police tasks have proved successful in reducing crime. Pioneering communities such as Bellingham in Washington and Ojai, San Bernardino, and San Clemente in California offer examples other towns may want to study.

Senior volunteers, working 3 to 4 hours a week and usually in pairs, relieve law enforcement officers and community service personnel of low-risk duties. They receive training in first aid, CPR, and defensive driving. In addition, they're trained to do some of the following:

* Check residences at the request of vacationing occupants

* Inform home and business owners on how to improve security

* Tag abandoned vehicles

* Enforce handicapped parking restrictions

* Distribute bad-check warnings to businesses

* Register bicycles

* Perform errands and clerical duties

* Show crime prevention films

* Patrol on foot in commercial areas to discourage shoplifting and vandalism

* Help with special-event traffic control

* Conduct "neighborhood watch" meetings about home security, personal safety, and fraud and swindle prevention

* Visit people with reduced mobility who live alone

The key to a successful program is matching volunteers to tasks compatible with their interests and abilities.

Program costs cover uniforms, vehicle maintenance, insurance, miscellaneous office supplies, and equipment such as walkie-talkies.

If you'd like to get in touch with directors of programs mentioned here, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Police Volunteers, Sunset Magazine, 80 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, Calif. 94025
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1989
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