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November 14, 2004
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A Thin, But Free Blue Line

Eight Volunteers Work Information Booth at Police Station, at Shooting Range and at Various Bureaus

By Mark R. Madler, The Los Angeles Times

DOWNTOWN BURBANK, Calif. - At the information booth on the first floor of Burbank Police headquarters, some of the more popular questions are the location of the city jail. Or where a bathroom or drinking fountain might be.

But instead of police officers taking these queries, a small but dedicated staff of civilian volunteers will give out the answers.

"This takes the pressure off the records bureau," said Judy Anderson, the volunteer coordinator. "With the booth, they come and ask us first."

Staffing the booth is just one of the duties performed by the eight volunteers. They also do clerical work in the traffic and detective bureaus and at the shooting range, and help out with the weekly Street Beat cable television show screening calls.

Police spokesman Sgt. Jay Jette credits the volunteers with doing an outstanding job that frees up time for officers to do more police work.

"They have brought their specialized work skills to us and allowed us to fully use this wide resource of knowledge they have," Jette said.

Claudia Bonis, a former chairwoman of the Police Commission, was the only volunteer in the program until Anderson and her husband, Marlan got involved about a year ago. She helps out doing clerical work in both the detective and traffic bureaus.

"I hope we get to build this up," Bonis said. "That was one of my goals when I was chairman and I'm glad to see it's happening."

June Box volunteers at both the shooting range and the front desk of the detective bureau.

"It's a learning process," Box said. "I'm not really familiar with the names and who does what yet, but it's exciting getting people to the right spot and helping them out."

To become a volunteer, a resident must complete the citizens police academy and undergo a background check.

Although she talks about the volunteer program all the time and tries to get others to become involved, at times the background check can be the deciding factor of whether a person says yes, Bonis said.

For more information on the volunteer program, contact Officer Vee Jones at 238-3235.






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