Fresno Police revealed Citizens on Patrol Specialists

FRESNO, Calif.

These new Citizens on Patrol Specialists will respond to crimes like vehicle burglaries, petty thefts, and vandalism.

Community service officers once covered those non-emergency calls for an hourly wage, but 50 were laid off in the latest city budget. These cops will do it for free.

"I do not think that volunteers can replace employees," said Chief Dyer. "But I do believe that volunteers can mitigate the impact of the loss of employees."

The police department currently has 60 citizens on patrol. Eleven of them are graduates of the advanced training course.

The new batch of advanced volunteers ranges in age from 21 to 60. Most have full-time jobs and a few have aspirations to become sworn police officers.

"I wanted to be a police officer for a very long time," said Citizens on Patrol Specialist Nicole Waltrip. "I got hired on as a cadet about two years ago and was let go because of the budget crisis."

After more than 40 hours of training, volunteers say they're ready, even for a dangerous situation.

"Well of course, but we've also been trained on how to approach a house safely and we've also been trained in other methods on how to deal with the public in case things get rough," said Citizens on Patrol Specialist Margarita Zepeda.

Many police departments shy away from volunteer policing programs because of liability issues. But in the face of Fresno's severe financial troubles, creativity and necessity have trumped liability.

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