Nadine Kaina … After reading an article about the need for volunteers to belong to a Sheriff’s Senior Patrol, I felt compelled to write an article of support.
When I was working and conducting a free telephone-support calling program for senior citizens, I would call the Volunteer Sheriff’s non-profit group, depending upon what city the senior lived in – San Marcos, Oceanside, or Vista, for assistance. Now in North County this service is provided in Carlsbad, Escondido, Encinitas, and Fallbrook. Many other cities are covered in the South County of San Diego.
This assistance program includes being the eyes and ears for deputies in the communities, making house calls to residents living alone, home vacation checks, providing traffic control during emergencies, communicate by radio with dispatch plus perform such tasks as: issuing handicap parking citations, patrolling the city and participating in community events. They also provide fingerprint services to schools, Scouts, and other groups. YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a special program for those persons who are homebound. I plan to “ride along” with those volunteers, another time.
Personally, knowing two of the volunteers who belong to my Kiwanis Club (Sunrise Vista), I asked for a “ride-a-long”. I was given a required form to fill out and soon at home, I got a phone call to say I was approved!
On a sunny, August Monday morning @ 7:30 a.m., I parked my car by the flag pole at the Vista Sherriff’s Station. Soon, my friend and driver came out and motioned me to come in. He began by talking with instructions and took me to the coffee room for introductions to four volunteer crews. I knew two of the 8 volunteers. Paperwork and briefing, a tour of offices in the command center, then we were ready to go to the white, volunteer marked, Sheriff’s special auto. There are always two volunteers per car and this day, one other volunteer, Geri Gertsch, said she was a “newbie” of two months. Driver, Lanny Arrowsmith, has been a volunteer for 9 years. They inspected the vehicle, Geri stood behind the car to make sure “all was clear”, and off we went, headed on South Melrose, going in and out of parking lots to check Handicap Parking spaces for Blue Hangers or marked license plates, due to the “Sheriff’s Patrol” not having enough staff.
Proceeding with details of “paperwork” needed to be done, as we ride along, Geri also talks into the radio reporting when a “vacation” check is completed. This is a free service to persons who go away and want the outside areas of their home checked. Just call the non-emergency number, 858-565-5200.
Every school is patrolled by the “teams”. There is a certain route pattern driven, with no back tracks, and out of the Sheriff’s area determined, in-order to be done in a timely matter. The shifts exist for 6 hours plus one for lunch/dinner.
Up and around we go, checking the gates of reservoirs with a “drive by”. Making sure no one has “messed” with the water supply.
Seeing parts of Vista such as: Blue Bird Canyon where we looked for smoke/fires and other areas, is quite the scenic “tour”, with bumpy, twisting, hilly roads.
Persons in communities out for a walk, some with dogs – oh yes, checked a dog park to see if all ok (watch out for coyotes). Vistans would often wave or salute to our car. Did you know in one of Vista parks, there is a “fish, catch and release program”?
Then it was time for lunch at Sunrise Café, where owner Bobby Jones greeted us, had a place reserved for us (after Geri phoned in how many were coming) and where we met other uniformed volunteers.
One more ride around in the Cinneopolis complex, with Geri reporting at each stop sign “all clear” as her eyes are always looking out for other cars or situations for the driver, and before I was brought back to my car at my request because their duty was not over.
Why not volunteer for this program? It is designed for citizens 50 years and older who want to serve their community through safety, crime prevention and education. Duties range from administrative work to the above- mentioned situations. Training is given for two weeks in the Senior Volunteer Patrol Academy. Courses include radio training, patrol observations, crime prevention, CPR, senior scams and other department issues.
If you have spare time and want to be involved in a worthwhile service activity, in any North County community, call 858-974-2709 or visit sdsheriff.net.