Citizen Police Auxiliary Effectiveness
You can never fully measure the effectiveness of a "citizen on patrol" type of volunteer program, especially one of this nature where Auxiliary are providing support services to officers on the street.
However, we can look to Auxiliary duty logs and get some idea. Each year, the Auxiliary averages 2,500 hours of volunteer service, will drive 8,500 miles on community patrol and log over 1,900 incidents where in they provided direct assistance to a Police of Sheriff Officer, Highway Patrol, Fire or EMS services, or a citizen in need. Auxiliary are on assigned patrol every Friday and Saturday night, from 7:00 pm to 3:00 pm. (often more than one team), every week of the year.
In addition, Auxiliary volunteer are on 24 hour call for crime scene perimeter control-especially when there is a need to control a large scene or when specialized canvassing of a neighborhood or area is required.
A normal shift will involve Auxiliary patrol of businesses and neighborhoods, direct support of officers in a variety of calls where additional eyes and ears are needed, assistance at an incident or accident scene with traffic control or form completion, temporary custody of juvenile's until intake personnel are available, etc. Auxiliary members are required to patrol in teams of two.
A recent article in "Community Policing Exchange" quoted a Police Administrator who said, "Two important issues facing police administrators today: 1) the need to educate the public to gain support, and 2) the need to maintain sufficient staffing to fulfill important, but low priority peripheral functions. Leaner budgets require police administrators to do more with less, which provides plenty of opportunity for creativity."
Dodge City's partnership between the Police Department and volunteer citizens has formed a creative alliance to address needs of both the department and the community. The Auxiliary had been a key ingredient in changing perceptions and expectations in our community, reducing criminal activity, improving officer response time, and enhancing the safety of our officers and neighborhoods.
This level of development of "citizen-assisted policing" may not be possible in all cities and counties, as it demands a significant attitudinal shift by law enforcement administration, City or County Administrator's, officer's and citizens. It has been successful in Dodge City because there was a demonstrated community need - citizens prepared to volunteer- and department leadership that was willing to set-aside traditional structure and seriously ask the question "Why Not?" The result of that shared vision has been very rewarding.