Volunteers Help Lengthen Long Arm Of The Law

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For the fifth consecutive year, the Payson Police Department is relying on volunteers to do some of the work that officers cannot do because of time restraints and and lack of manpower.

Sgt. Don Kasl, the police volunteer coordinator, said last year 11,000 hours were volunteered and saved the department almost $20,000 when considering the average wage, with benefits included, would have been $17.55 an hour.

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Bob Koontz (left) and Marshall Cole do their part to ensure that our community is safe and secure by patrolling our parks and campgrounds in and around Payson.

Currently, the Payson Police Department has 54 volunteers and is allowed to go as high as 75.

Volunteer Bob Koontz said he feels the police volunteerism work is needed in the community.

"We are just showing the colors," he said Thursday morning while on patrol. "When you see the car, it keeps people on their toes."

Marshall Cole, who was riding with Koontz, agreed.

"We think we help prevent crime," he said.

Payson Police Commander Don Engler said the police volunteers do a wide variety of things, adding that volunteers staff the clerical department of the PPD.

He said they work in records, do filing and transcribe police reports.

There are two patrols for volunteers: Patrol I and Patrol II.

A Patrol I volunteer will look for suspicious activities and then relay the information back to the department.

A Patrol II officer is allowed to issue handicapped parking citations. Both patrols do vacation home watches.

Payson Police volunteers have also helped in bike races and the soap box derby.

Engler said there are also volunteers who staff the homebound service portion of the department. Volunteers call homebound residents every morning at a predetermined time to ensure they are safe.

"We couldn't provide all the services (without them)," Engler said. "We could not afford to pay for their duties."

Kasl said it seems like the volunteer police services are growing daily.

In the last quarter (three months), police volunteers donated three to 201 hours of their time to the department.

Kasl said there are a few volunteers who donate close to 40 hours a week.

The most hours worked by any one volunteer is about 5,000 hours, though there are several others who have donated more than 1,000 hours.

Kasl said there are about 20 volunteers who donate 500 or more hours a year to the police department.

"That is a bunch," he said. "We always find something new (for volunteers to do)."

A police volunteer, Engler said, cannot make an arrest, issue traffic citations or do anything that requires police certification.

They can and do provide support at crime scenes such as traffic control, while officers work the location.

Kasl said volunteers can investigate abandoned vehicles and applications of the town code too.

Engler said the police volunteers provide a presence in neighborhoods without officers needing to be there.

"It's an extra set of eyes and ears out there," he said.

Engler said the Payson Police Department is always looking for additional police volunteers.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 24 at the old Payson High School gym, the PPD will hold a session for people wanting to volunteer at the police department.

Engler said people interested in becoming a police volunteer may call (928) 474-5242, ext. 209.

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