California sheriff is looking for a few good seniors

(LEMON GROVE, Calif.) -- The sheriff's station here is looking for a few good retired men and women.

About 20, to be exact. Law-abiding men and women who have time on their hands and want to donate it toward improving safety throughout a 115-square-mile swath of eastern San Diego County.

"We're non-combative; we don't carry firearms," said Ruth Noe, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol in the area.

The Lemon Grove-based RSVP program is hurting. It has 45 people on board -- a 25 percent drop from the 60 who were serving a year ago, Noe said.

"We could use about 20 more people, easy," Noe said.

Those in the program are 55 or older and go through a two-week course at the sheriff's academy. They also undergo background checks.

Duties run the gamut. Patrol members make daily phone calls to check on seniors under a program called You Are Not Alone. They also drive around in white patrol cars to check on the homes of people on vacation. And they are always on the lookout for suspicious vehicles or people.

Dressed in uniforms of white shirts and Navy blue pants and jackets, RSVP members carry department-issued radios. If they see something suspicious, they call for deputies.

Volunteers do not make arrests.

"They help reduce the number of daytime burglaries by their presence," said Sgt. William Kemery.

Patrol members also help direct traffic at emergencies and often are on the lookout for missing adults suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease. They also issue citations to motorists who unlawfully park in spaces reserved for the handicapped.

Total crime has dropped in Lemon Grove by about 11 percent during the first nine months of this year, and is down by about 18 percent in the county's unincorporated areas, compared to the same period last year, Kemery said.

The Lemon Grove RSVP program serves the unincorporated communities of Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego, Mount Helix, Jamul and Proctor Valley. It also serves Lemon Grove and neighborhoods near La Mesa and El Cajon.

The area has nearly 170,000 residents.

People interested in volunteering with RSVP can pick up information packets at the Lemon Grove sheriff's station next to City Hall at 3240 Main St., or they can call (619) 337-2072 from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays.

(iSyndicate; The San Diego Union-Tribune; Nov. 18, 2000) Terms and Conditions: Copyright( 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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