Dublin Villager

Dublin City Council approves community service officers training

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Dublin Police are going through a new class of recruits.

A new Community Service Officer Program got the OK from Dublin City Council members last week, creating the new program that will allow volunteers to assist the police.

Dublin Police began looking into a "volunteer force of engaged community members to assist the police division with our goals of reducing crime, reducing traffic crashes, preparing for and handling critical incidents and addressing issues of significant community concern," in 2011, a staff report to council said.

"Our goal is to engage the community in every way," said Dublin Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg.

The new community service officers will be recruited from the Dublin Citizens Police Academy started last summer, von Eckartsberg said.

The next Citizens Police Academy starts in August and the 12-week program gives residents a look into what police do.

"The academy was an incredible experience," Councilwoman Marilee Chinnici-Zuercher said. She encouraged others to join the program.

The program will initially have 10 officers, but the police division's five-year strategic plan allows for as many as 30 if needed, von Eckartsberg said.

Community service officers won't be allowed to carry weapons and have no arrest authority.

Potential duties for the new officers include: responding to vehicle lock outs, community education, distributing theft prevention notices, deploying speed trailer equipment, conducting vacation house checks, observing and reporting suspicious activities, supporting law enforcement in traffic operations and testifying in court or other legal proceedings on jobs performed.

Community service officers will also help police as safety advocates at special events and can enforce parking regulations.

"We did carve out that as something we may have them do on a limited basis," Lt. John DeJarnette said of enforcing parking regulations.

"We have some parking issues in the community we have been working on," DeJarnette said.

"It will not be their primary function by any means."

The pool of new officers does come from the Citizen Police Academy, but training will be required.

"They will go through additional training above and beyond the Citizens Police Academy," DeJarnette said.

"They'll be trained on specific tasks outlined in the ordinance change," he said.

"We go through a set-by-set process of each job assignment they have. They will receive some pretty extensive training before they go out."

Community service officers will work as their schedule allows, DeJarnette said, and their time will work to free up police officers for other tasks.

"We'll come up with a schedule that works for them," he said.

"The list of tasks are tasks that police officers do 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," DeJarnette said.

The officers can assist residents with car lock outs while police officers do jobs they cannot, such as respond to burglary alarms or pull over speeders

"This will really expand the department's outreach into the community," DeJarnette said.

"We're bringing on a new force of individuals that are out there in the community representing our values and our goals.

"This should be a unique opportunity. I'm excited to see the results of it as far as goals and objectives and reducing crime."

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