OCEANSIDE — Oceanside Police Department is recruiting additional senior volunteers to serve the city.
Volunteer Leo Bates serves as program administrator, and has volunteered for the department for close to 20 years.
“They use us for just about anything they want to use us for, if one of us can handle it,” Bates said.
Volunteers are trained on police radio, paperwork and home visit protocol, and take a driving test behind the wheel of a patrol car.
After a week of training, they are assigned to standard volunteer duties for six months.
Once a week volunteers check in, attend a daily briefing meeting, receive assignments and head out in teams of two in marked volunteer police patrol cars.
Bates said all assigned duties are nonconfrontational. Standard duties include You Are Not Alone (YANA) home visits, and checking park, shopping center and beach parking lots for handicap parking violations.
It’s all about seniors helping fellow seniors.
YANA visits check on housebound seniors, and ensure their health and welfare. Bates said it’s one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
“They appreciate it,” Bates said. “They have no one else. They don’t know how to describe how grateful they are.”
During YANA visits a pair of volunteers stops in to ask shut-ins if they have taken prescribed medication and eaten regular meals. They also visually check for signs of elder abuse.
Bates said on one occasion a YANA visit came to the aid of a senior who was unresponsive and laying on the floor of her home.
Volunteers arrived for their scheduled visit, but got no response to their knock at the door. Following protocol they looked in windows to search for the senior, and spotted her on the floor. Emergency help was immediately called, and the senior received needed care.
Senior volunteers put in about 6.5 hours a week. Most serve for five years, and some stay on for 20 years. The average age of a volunteer is 70.
“It grows on you,” Bates said.
After six months of volunteer work additional duties are assigned.
Senior volunteer Muriel Carpentino works as the front door greeter at the Oceanside Police station. She said part of her job is easing people’s tensions, and checking that they are at the right location to receive help. She also trains and oversees fellow volunteers.
Carpentino said she feels she is lending an important service to the community.
“I feel as if I’m doing something that is a benefit to people,” Carpentino said.
Volunteer Polly Alonso works as a program training officer. She checks volunteers’ end-of-day paperwork, fields incoming calls and delivers department mail.
Other duties for senior volunteers include event traffic control and moving vehicles and completing paperwork during DUI checkpoints.
“The opportunities for serving in the community as an SVPP member are nearly endless, and are rewarding,” Lt. Leonard Cosby said.
A senior volunteer patrol academy will be held in September to train prospective volunteers. Applicants must be at least 50 years of age, possess a valid California driver’s license and pass a background check.
For more information contact Leo Bates at (760) 435-4763.