2007-07-28 / Editorials & Letters

Sheriff explains COP program

Editor:

I am excited about the possibility of having a Citizens on Patrol (COP) program in FairfieldCounty. This program is just one more way of partnering with our community to provide safety and security to all of our residents. Just like block watches provide citizens the security of neighbors looking out for neighbors, this program will take that concept one step further by becoming a mobile block watch with citizens patrolling their neighborhoods and communities.

It is important to understand what a COP program is and what it is not. COP is made up of community volunteers who want to assist in making their neighborhoods a safer place to live. Over 80 citizens have shown an interest in participating in our COP program, ranging in age from college students to senior citizens.

Prior to participation, the volunteers would go through a background check and receive training on how to identify and report unusual or suspicious behavior, basic CPR and communication techniques and their overall responsibilities. They would also go on ride alongs with deputies and there would be a probationary period to assess their suitability in the program.

The volunteers would not be armed and would not be involved in any type of confrontation with other citizens. They would simply report what they observe while making their rounds so deputies could respond. The volunteers could also help in other ways such as directing traffic at festivals, patrolling parks, doing vacation checks, and taking police reports for minor accidents.

Today there are hundreds of volunteer COP programs across the United States which have been well received by their community. We are currently looking at other successful COP models to determine he type and amount of training they have used. The primary goal would be to ensure that the volunteers are safe and understand their duties and responsibilities.

By allowing residents to get involved in protecting their communities, the dividends could be large.

If you are interested in volunteering, please call (740) 687-6751.

I want to thank each volunteer for coming forward to help ensure a safe and secure community.

Sheriff Dave Phalen Lancaster

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