By Tamas Mondovics
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is now seeking new recruits to expand its Volunteer Citizen Patrol Program (VCPP) in Riverview, one of the county’s fastest growing communities.
To help those interested in volunteering for the program, the Sheriff’s Office has scheduled a meeting for Thursday, July 7 at the Gardenville Recreation Center at 6215 Symmes Rd., starting at 6 p.m. HCSO deputies will be on hand to explain what the program is all about and what the requirements are for those ready to serve their community, while supporting the department in its daily operation.
“We hope to see as many as possible at the meeting,” said HCSO Riverview Substation Community Resource Deputy, Cliff Fletcher, adding that the first obstacle to starting the program is to have enough volunteer recruits on hand. “The program has to meet a certain number of volunteers before we can take the next step.”
Once in place the benefits of the VCPP for each community it serves are countless.
The first class of 24 volunteers was formed in Apollo Beach in the spring of 2007. Today, the department has more than 100 volunteers serving Brandon, Bloomingdale, FishHawk, Apollo Beach, Westchase and Lutz communities.
The program in Riverview would approximately serve within the corridor south of the Alafia River down to the Summerfield neighborhood, between SR 301 and Balm Riverview Road, which may be expanded depending on the amount of volunteers and the means to support them.
VCPP was created to help reduce crime, improve the safety of our citizens, the quality of life within Hillsborough County, and it allows residents to become active participants in crime control and prevention.
VCPP volunteers assist the department with a number of proactive “neighborhood watch” programs and non-intervention law enforcement related activities.
Specially trained by the Sheriff’s Office, volunteers respond to many non-emergency and routine calls for service that do not require law enforcement or regulatory authority.
Volunteers donate their time to patrol, while driving specially marked Sheriff’s Office vehicles and receive training in areas such as crime prevention, first-aid, traffic control, and community policing.
The VCPP consists of two daytime shifts per day, seven days a week. Each VCPP vehicle patrols with two volunteers per shift.
Citizen Patrol Volunteer activities include: Patrol neighborhoods, assist with school crossings, conduct vacation checks, document graffiti, monitor suspicious activity at schools, assist disabled motorists, assist with road obstructions, assist with traffic direction, and conduct traffic surveys.
Those interested in joining the new recruits must be a U.S. citizen, 19 years of age or older, possess a valid driver’s license, pass a screening test, complete VCPP training, be willing to attend monthly meetings and be willing to volunteer a minimum of 12 hours per month.
“It is time for a volunteer program in Riverview,” Fletcher said. “It is a pleasure working with our volunteers. I hope to see a great turnout and to start the program as soon as possible.”
For more information, visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us or call the Volunteer Section at 247-0944.