Whether they help with vacation house checks, educate boaters and make the waters safer or help greet those who visit City Hall, the Cape Coral Police Volunteer Unit is a vital part of the department.
More are now needed for their ranks. Applications are now being accepted at the department for the academy training class scheduled the week of Jan. 28 through Feb. 1 at police headquarters.
Jerry Monroe is a lieutenant in the Patrol Division of the Volunteer Unit. It is authorized to have about 140 people, and now has some open spots.
"Some are civilians and some are retired police officers, all community-minded people," he said.
The unit is highly respected, he added.
"Chief Jay Murphy is very proud that we contribute to the department, how we save taxpayers and the city a lot of money by these volunteer services. He's also very proud of the number of hours we put in," he said.
Their duties allow regular officers to attend to other matters, and help deter crime.
In fact, the program is so well received that the Fort Myers Police Department has just patterned its program after Cape Coral's.
"We have three divisions - the Patrol Division, the Marine Division and the Administrative Division," he said.
In the Patrol Division, one duty is house checks.
"Vacation house checks are very important," he said. "A lot of folks go away, and some bad things like break-ins can be reported."
The volunteers report forced access or other problems to officers.
"It basically gives a homeowner peace of mind," he said.
That division also handles patrolling the streets and assisting with the enforcement of non-moving violations like violations of handicap parking, parking in a fire lane and more. They may also help direct traffics at crashes.
"For the administrative folks, they help inside on a variety of duties including helping at the window at City Hall, helping check appointments, give out information and act as escorts through the police department," he said.
They also do fingerprinting and some clerical work.
The Marine Division patrols the canals of Cape Coral, watching for safety hazards and more.
"Basically they go out to educate boaters and patrol canals, keeping the waterways safe for the boating community," he said.
For the administrative folks, they help inside on a variety of duties, window check appointments and give escorts through the police department.
The deadline for applications is Dec. 31, with the academy class beginning Monday, Jan. 28.
The training lasts about a week fulfilling certain requirements.
"Once they complete that, they go out with a trainer, learn what has to be done and how to do it," he said. "Chief Murphy has some very strict standards we have to adhere to."
To apply, fill out an application at the police station located at 1100 Cultural Park Blvd. Applicants must be over 21 years of age, a resident of Lee County and possess a valid Florida Drivers' license.
You will be interviewed, fingerprinted and subject to a background check.
For more information, call 242-3346.