By Pamela Singleton, Director of Communications
Posted July 31, 2008
I recently had a conversation with Trudy Dana from the Lynnwood Police Department and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed by the LPD’s Citizens’ Patrol program. Not only does it deliver a great benefit for the Lynnwood Washington community, it demonstrates the power of people pulling together to take care of each other.
“This is the most effective crime prevention program I have ever had” Trudy said. “It’s fantastic.”
The program started 12 years ago with a few dedicated volunteers and thrives today with 70 men and women, ages 18 to 60, all volunteering at least 12 hours a month to improve the safety and livability of their community. Last year, the Citizensâ€™ Patrol logged in 22,000 hours of volunteering, the equivalent of 11 full time people, according to Trudy. This force of pharmacists, lawyers, moms and students is highly trained and their activities enable the Lynnwood Police Department to continue to provide a high level of service, despite budget cuts.
Trudy attributes the Lynnwood Police Department Citizens’ Patrol’s success to several factors.
1. The vision of the Lynnwood Chief of Police
2. The research completed in the planning stages to determine “how could a civilian group help you?”
3. The openness of the Lynnwood Police Department
4. The very extensive training of the volunteers
5. The recruitment of the volunteers
6. The close supervision and support the volunteers receive
7. The structure of the program
The volunteers work hand-in-hand with the police department. They direct traffic at accidents, they hand out disabled parking citations, open locked cars, help at community events and patrol area bike trails. This group is also responds to the call to help with community emergencies. Trudy described a recent situation when the Citizens’Patrol was called out. Some power poles were accidentally knocked down and the volunteers rallied to direct traffic. Throughout the day, about 20 people shared in responsibilities to keep things moving. To have police officers tied up all day with an event like this would have placed a great strain on the department.
The community responds well to the Citizens’ Patrol’s activities.
“Our volunteers are so skilled” Trudy said. “Can you imagine if you just locked your keys in your car with your child inside? Or if you missed the last bus home? Or you aren’t sure how you’ll get home when you’ve been the victim of a crime”
The Citizens’ Patrol comes to the rescue in all of these types of situations. They also provide increased patrols to neighborhoods.
Trudy frequently hears how much people appreciate the police presence in their neighborhoods when she attends Block Watch meetings. However, after they describe the cars to her, it turns out they are actually talking about the Citizens’ Patrol.
The Lynnwood Police Department provides them with all the equipment they need three (soon four) cars, bikes, police radios, uniforms and other gear.
Trudy is so excited about the success of Lynnwood’s Citizens’ Patrol, she gladly talks to other law enforcement agencies about it. She’s talked to about ten agencies in Western Washington in the past year. She shares their policies and procedures, how they got the Lynnwood program started and invites other agencies volunteers to come train with the Citizens’ Patrol.
“In a time of service and budget cuts, this is a viable answer” Trudy said.
Trudy invited me to go on a “ride along” or attend a meeting the next time I’m in the area and I’m definitely going to check that out. If you want more information about the program, visit the Lynnwood Police Department’s website.