The Odessa, Texas, Citizens On Patrol program began July 3, 1998. Participants were selected from the Volunteers In Policing program which consisted of graduates of the Odessa Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy that began in 1991. The initial objectives of the program were:
- to assist the Odessa Police Department through observation
- to help reduce crime in the neighborhoods by providing highly visible patrols as a deterrent to criminal activity
- to increase public presence in the neighborhoods
- to unite residents for a dedicated reason
- to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods
- to provide a safe, secure environment for all neighborhood residents
- to make a difference in the neighborhoods
- to observe and report suspicious, criminal and dangerous activities
We currently have nine Citizens on Patrol with two marked Chevrolet Impalas. Our nine volunteers average approximately one hundred nine (109) hours per month.
Our primary objective is assisting the sworn officers of the Odessa Police Department in their duties so that they may either remain in service or return to service as quickly as possible. This is accomplished in many ways including those listed below:
- conducting close patrols of neighborhoods and businesses
- issuing disabled/handicap parking violations
- standing by for wrecker service
- standbys for utility pole repair
- lending assistance on crime scenes
- assisting at motor vehicle accident scenes
- assisting disabled/stranded motorists
- delivering assorted items such as paperwork and drug test kits to officers
- assisting Animal Control by removing deceased animals from the roadway
- patrolling parking lots during major holidays
- assisting the officers as a helper, but most importantly, as a friend
- public relations: promote the Odessa Police Department to the general public
We lend assistance in a non-patrol capacity as well. Most commonly, this entails working the many parades and special events that occur each year. Among these are the National Night Out celebrations in which our C.O.P. units go to different crime watch neighborhoods for public relation appearances. We also transport McGruff the Crime Dog to the neighborhoods during National Night Out.
The Odessa Police Department provides our volunteers with uniforms and all required equipment. olunteers must wear black pants, black socks, and black shoes that are not provided by the police department. We are issued a portable radio, a flashlight, and one 35mm camera for each vehicle. The cameras are used to obtain photographic evidence of vehicles and license plates that are cited for illegally parking in disabled/handicap parking areas.
The C.O.P. utilizes two Chevrolet Impalas which are marked “Citizens on Patrol”. Each unit has a built in console with in-car radios. They have amber overhead visibars and are equipped with takedown and alley lights, as well as a spotlight. Other equipment includes a ticket book holder, traffic wand, traffic vest, fire extinguisher, raincoats, AIDS bag, haz-mat suits, and teddy bears which are given to children in need of comfort in certain situations. The units are also supplied with drug test kits, traffic cones, and extra paperwork and forms that the officers may need while on patrol.
- Be a graduate of the Citizens Police Academy.
- Be 18 years of age.
- Have a valid drivers license.
- Be in good health.
- Meet current CJIS and TCOLE standards.
- Have a good driving record.
A new C.O.P. must complete a three phase training course before taking an oath. The phases consist of the following:
- Phase I: Two 8-10 hour patrols with an instructor (ride and observe only)
- Phase II: Two 8-10 hour patrols sharing half of the responsibilities (driving, radio traffic, and paperwork)
- Phase III: Two 8-10 hour patrols assuming all the responsibilities required on a regular patrol (driving, radio traffic, paperwork)
While some cities of comparable size to Odessa have a larger Citizens on Patrol program, the number of volunteer hours and our statistics reflect that ours is a group of very proud and dedicated individuals who give unselfishly and without hesitation of their time and themselves to make their community a safer place to live and raise a family. We feel strongly that we have made, and will continue to make a difference.
For additional information regarding the department's COP program, please contact LT. Sammy Berzoza at 432-335-5726 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.