“We don’t get paid or reimbursed, but we are, in a way, saving the community and doing civic duties,” says Rochester Day Makers, Minnesota, Kiwanian David Moehnke.
Like Moehnke, several members of the club participate in the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program.
“I’m involved in a lot of school projects where Kiwanis allocates snacks or other supplies to schools, but this project is one where it is our physical being we are giving to make the community better, safer,” he says.
Part of the USA Freedom Corps created by former U.S. President George W. Bush following the outpouring of community generosity in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, VIPS is one of many ways that citizens can help make their communities stronger and safer in emergency situations.
The trained and certified volunteers support law enforcement agencies by performing a variety of non-confrontational duties. “It’s all voluntary, but we serve functions that actual salaried policemen and women have done in the past,” explains Moehnke.
“I would say about 60 percent of what volunteers do is administrative, such as office work or record keeping, while the other 40 percent is physical, including things like home safety checks for people who are out of town, home inspections for the elderly or neighborhood traffic monitoring.”
Volunteers may also be involved in parade traffic control, sitting at crime scenes to ensure only those authorized cross the caution tape or language interpreting.
Offloading some aspects of their work onto volunteers saved the Rochester Police Department more than US$117,000 last year. — Courtney Meyer
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