Phil has volunteered for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) for six years. As a Metro volunteer he plays two roles. One of O’Leary’s roles is as a character actor for McGruff. He wears a dog costume and travels to elementary schools and safety fairs, taking a bite out of crime. They have recently started a new program in the elementary schools for the kindergarteners and first-graders. Not only do they educate them on Stranger Dangers, but they also introduce them to the McGruff Truck Program. They teach them to look for the picture of McGruff that appears on utility vehicles and how to signal these workers for help. This program is very valuable, because these McGruff truck drivers, whether they are Nevada Power employees, Southwest Gas employees, county or city employees, have been trained in how to assist children in times of crisis.
Even though the McGruff Truck Program has been in existence for over five years, it is not that familiar to our elementary children. When McGruff goes to the elementary schools, he makes a real impression on them. He gives hugs and high-fives as he helps educate them to stranger dangers. The children love him. They deputize the children with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sticker police badges and engage them in helping McGruff keep them safe. Every child has an opportunity to come up and hug, high-five, or pet McGruff. They also take a photo of the children with McGruff, which is sent back to the class to reinforce our visit. Even when O’Leary is wearing his hot, confining dog head that impairs his vision, he is always very caring and patient with the children.
O’Leary also writes handicap-parking citations for LVMPD. He uses his own vehicle and buys his own gasoline to patrol the downtown area command. O’Leary is 75 years old and has a handicapped-parking placard issued to him. As a person who is handicapped, he knows how important the availability of these spaces is for the people who truly need them. Even though ensuring these spaces are available for the handicapped population is of utmost importance, it is not the top priority for the police officers. The participation of volunteers like O’Leary enables the police department to better serve the community and allows the police to concentrate on protecting the community.
O’Leary contributes to his community in ways that influence both the old and young and makes life easier for the disabled citizens.