The San Diego Police Department’s Volunteers In Policing (VIP) program offers a unique opportunity for citizens to become actively involved in providing efficient, effective, and responsive service to the community. No police department is large enough to keep a community safe on its own. Effective crime prevention requires the active support of citizens – a partnership between police and the community. This growing recognition has increased interest in community oriented policing and problem solving in police departments across the country.
San Diego, like many cities, has introduced community policing into its police department. However, what makes their approach to neighborhood policing innovative, is the extent to which the police department has made its volunteers an integral component of its program. They are viewed as a leading force in law enforcement innovations occurring across the country. The adult workforce in San Diego is approaching 1100 persons. These volunteers play a vital role in the department’s vision to engage the community in a problem solving partnership that will reduce crime and positively affect the quality of life in all communities. In 1999, the volunteers generously donated more than 198,000 hours of service to the department and their community.
The San Diego Police Department has used volunteers for a wide variety of assignments for several years. Programs throughout the department are considered models of volunteerism in the public sector, and the volunteers are essential to the departmental operations. They help provide a level of customer service that could not be achieved by the department’s staff alone. Volunteers represent all segments of society. The special activities within the VIP program are: Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP), the Crisis Intervention Team, and the Volunteer Interpreters Program. The volunteers also assist with research and writing reports, working with computers, doing fingerprinting, help with crime prevention, and clerical work.
The Office of Volunteer Services is dedicated to providing an exciting, challenging, and meaningful work environment. The VIP program offers a unique opportunity for citizen volunteers to become actively involved in providing efficient, effective and responsive service to their community. The VIP program is a result of two decades of change in policing philosophy that has heralded San Diego as a pioneer in many areas of law enforcement. The officers, staff and volunteers make the San Diego Police Department’s Office of Volunteer Services the most advanced and well-respected police volunteer program in the nation.