By Barb Lally
Lacey Community Resource Officer Mike Hill and his partner parked their squad car in front of a Lacey residence where the homeowners had requested a “house check” by the Police Department while the couple was away. Hill walked around to the side garage door, turned the doorknob, and it clicked open.
Hill radioed in to the Lacey Police Department dispatch to “request a second unit.” Lacey Police Officers arrived at the home and thoroughly checked for signs of burglary or theft. None were found, the door was locked, and the absent homeowners were deeply grateful.
House checks are just one of the many services provided by the Lacey Police Department’s Community Resource Officers (CROs) volunteer unit that partners with the community to make Lacey a safe and desirable place to live, work, learn and play. The unit has a new name for what has been known as the “Senior Patrol” since the group’s inception in the mid-90s.
Ranked as a Lieutenant in charge of coordinating the volunteer Officers’ activities, Hill has nearly 40 years experience in law enforcement.
“I wanted to give back to my community,” says Lt. Hill, who also serves on the board of directors for CrimeStoppers and as president of his homeowners association. ”With my background, it was just a natural fit and I can do it all on my own schedule.”
Priceless hours of service
Last year, the CROs logged thousands of volunteer hours, including vacation house checks and graffiti clean-up projects with juveniles assigned community service by the courts. The CROs also supervise low-risk inmates who collect litter from City streets and parks and provide support for many community events.
Lacey Police Chief Dusty Pierpoint says the CRO volunteers play a critical role in carrying out the department’s mission. “The Community Resource Officers provide an incredible amount of support,” notes Chief Pierpoint. “There are very few events that they don’t touch in one way or another. And there are things important to community safety that wouldn’t get done without them.”
Lacey continues to have one of the lowest crime rates in the area.
You’ll know they are there
If you ever find a bright blue “Parking Violation Warning” card on your car windshield from the Lacey Police Department, one of the CROs, who are authorized to write parking tickets within Lacey city limits, probably put it there.
Hill describes the volunteers as “Limited Commission Officers”, which allows them to write parking tickets. Hill says they are also called in to help with traffic control and are often seen working the front desk of the City’s Police Department.
The volunteer Officers wear official uniforms and their Lacey Police vehicle is marked “Volunteer Services.” The vehicle is equipped with amber lights for safety, as volunteer Officers are not authorized to pull over citizens.
The CROs are not armed and do not engage if they encounter trouble. Instead, they radio directly to Police dispatch for Police Officer response.
The highly recognized program received the Washington State Crime Prevention Association’s award for Program of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
Want to get in uniform?
“It is amazing what we have accomplished with a small band of Community Resource Officers,” says Hill.
Requirements for an applicant are that they must be a U.S. citizen; be a minimum of 45 years of age; have a valid driver’s license; no criminal record; physician’s approval; and volunteer at least 16 hours per month.
The process begins with an application, followed by an interview. If selected to be an Officer, the candidate receives field training with other CROs.
A grateful community
The dedicated service of Lacey’s Community Resource Officers is obviously not motivated by a paycheck. It is all about caring for the safety and protection of their community.
The volunteer Officers enjoy a great working environment, engaging camaraderie, and a whole drawer-full of thank you notes from homeowners and citizens.
“The unit provides the visibility of our Department in our neighborhoods, schools, parks, trails and businesses. It’s another way the City of Lacey guards the well-being of our community,” notes Chief Pierpoint. “We simply couldn’t provide the level of service that we do without our volunteers.”
*Lacey Community Resource Officer volunteer application forms may be obtained at the Human Resources Department or the Lacey Police Department front desk. Completed applications must be returned to the Human Resources Department. For additional questions regarding the application process, please contact Human Resources at (360) 491-3214.
For more information regarding the program, please contact the Community Resource Officers by sending an email to email@example.com or call 360-456-7792.