The IACP/BodyWorn Leadership in Law Enforcement Volunteer Programs Award recognizes volunteer programs that demonstrate innovative, effective practices for augmenting sworn or civilian staff and/or improving service delivery to their communities.
Established in 2003, the goal of the award program is to recognize the value that volunteers provide to state and local law enforcement and to institutionalize the theories and practices of the national Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program. Members of the IACP Police Administration Committee meet annually to judge the award applications and select the winning agencies.
From Award Sponsor – BodyWorn by Utility – VIPS
Each year, we at BodyWorn by Utility, Inc. have the great honor of recognizing and awarding those police departments who actively engage in volunteer work outside of their expected duties. We are a company widely made up of those that have served our country either on the streets or overseas and our partners in law enforcement are very special to us. We are incredibly grateful for the time these police officers take volunteering to better their community and form a stronger officer-citizen bond with the people they have dedicated their lives to protect and serve.
Sarasota, Florida, Police Department
The Sarasota Police Department’s (SPD) Volunteer Program was established at the end of 2001. The roots of the program stemmed from the need to have more neighborhood crime watch participants. At that time, about two dozen volunteers made up the entire program. Since then, the community and department needs have evolved immensely. The city not only needed the SPD to be more visible, but also improve on their communication with the public through positive interactions with business owners, visitors, and residents.
Around 2012, the SPD was facing a large amount of negative exposure in the media which, in turn, led to overwhelming public mistrust. The public’s refusal to speak with local officers coupled with their unwillingness to assist the SPD at risk of their own personal safety created profound tension. Something needed to be done to improve the relationship.
Under the direction of a newly installed Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, the BLUE + YOU initiative was born. The goal of the initiative was simple: work towards building partnerships with community leaders by getting officers and volunteers to interact on many levels with citizens and to make the community a safer place to visit, live, and work. The hardest part would be finding willing participants to help carry out this vision.
Participants fell into three categories:
• Neighborhood crime watch/patrol members (equipped with marked civilian patrol vehicles; acting as a second set of eyes and ears to the PD)
• Administrative members (serving an essential role to the day-to-day operations of the department)
• Ambassadors carrying informative brochures, maps, and tablets as they work to engage the local businesses, citizens and visitors to the City of Sarasota.
Chief DiPino made the decision to hire a full-time Volunteer Coordinator to focus on recruiting the right volunteers for the right positions. Many volunteers came to SPD as a direct result of attending a Citizen’s Police Academy. Others found open positions through sites like VolunteerMatch.org and through SPD’s partnership with the local YMCA mentoring program.
Thanks to Community Policing efforts overall crime is down in the city and public trust has increased. And, through public recognition there has been a rise in business support and financial donations to the program.
Port St. Lucie, Florida, Police Department
The Port St. Lucie Police Department’s Volunteer Program compliments law enforcement services in one of the fastest growing cities in Florida. Focused leadership is at the helm of the program as volunteers are open to change and creating unique programs that will aid in meeting the needs of the community. Since the incorporation of the Port St. Lucie Police Department in 1961 it has had numerous community-minded citizens assist the agency. In May 1995, the agency officially implemented a volunteer program.
In the first year, more than 90 volunteers donated 9,000 hours of their time to assist with ancillary support services such as: updating equipment and inventory purchasing, providing clerical assistance in the Records Section and patrolling waterways with the Volunteer Marine Patrol. Since 2007, the agency has added programs such as: an additional Community Patrol, the Volunteer Response Team and Volunteer Park Patrol joining the established Crime Watch Patrol, Community Patrol, Parking Enforcement, Courier Service and Criminal Investigative Aide. Throughout 2016, the Port St. Lucie volunteers contributed 11,659 hours that saved the city approximately $274,686.
The Port St. Lucie Police Department has developed an efficient volunteer system where volunteers are regularly assessed and evaluated. The Volunteer Coordinator uses input from active volunteers, civilian staff, and sworn officers to improve tactics and make any necessary adjustments in volunteer contributions. Volunteers are recognized with monthly, quarterly, and annual awards. A good indicator of program success is the expansion of duties entrusted to the volunteers and the number of individual volunteers and community patrol hours provided.
The Port St. Lucie Police Volunteer Program continues to serve the department by helping them reach their goals and objectives with the hard work and dedication of the surrounding community.
2016 - Appleton, Wisconsin Police Department
Bellevue, Washington Police Department
Rocklin, California Police Department
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