Since 1993, Kentwood volunteers have been making a difference in their community by dedicating a few hours every week to supporting police services. An open house was held Wednesday, November 13th for interested residents to learn more about the program. Since 2007, Leslie Montgomery has been the coordinator for the Volunteers in Police Service and says the program has grown from a few to a group of over 40.
“It sounds like a lot, but we are always in recruiting mode,” she says. “We never know when our numbers may go down due to life circumstances. Plus, we have a lot of real estate to cover.”
Opportunities exist in areas such as, clerical, community road and trail patrol, and chaplain. Seasoned volunteers and police officers, including Police Chief Hillen, were at the open house to answer questions. Montgomery says interested volunteers have to be interviewed, pass a background check and attend training.
“When you volunteer for the Kentwood Police Department, you know you’re making a difference in the community,” she says. “You also make friends, and interact with and learn more about law enforcement. “
By patrolling areas that police officers may not have sufficient time to cover, volunteers fill the gap in public safety. From checking handicapped parking stickers, to cruising walking trails for debris, these primarily senior volunteers take their job seriously but with a lot of room for fun and camaraderie.
“Oh yes, we have to add fun to it – it keeps us coming back” smiles Richard, who is a 32 year veteran of the Kent County Police Department and a 4 year VIPS. He and his partner patrol the area around Woodland Mall for parking enforcement. He says he enjoys doing what he has known for most of his career, but without all the stress.
“You know back on the force, there were some days I’d wonder if I’d ever make it back home. This is nothing like that!”
Montgomery stresses that although the open house has come and gone, they will always take volunteers. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer in police service, contact Leslie Montgomery at 616-656-6571 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.