Ypsilanti Police Department seeks to increase volunteer numbers for neighborhood patrols, event coverage
The Ypsilanti Police Department is accepting applications for its 2013 Citizen Police Academy and is hopeful it can increase its number of volunteer service corp members, who conduct neighborhood patrols and provide assistance at events.
"Right now we have 17 active (volunteer service corp) members and we're looking to increase that with a couple people who have the time and dedication," said Sgt. Brent Yuchasz. "It does take up your time, but we appreciate the effort."
Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com
The neighborhood patrols are particularly crucial to the department, which doesn't have the extra personnel to do them on a regular basis. Residents, and volunteers, report the patrols makes them feel safer, Yuchasz said.
The department is currently staffed by 25 sworn officers, which represents a decrease from two years ago when the force was made up of 40 sworn officers.
The latest SEMCOG data from 2011 show that with a population of 19,435 people, Ypsilanti has 12.8 officers per 10,000 residents, which is below the benchmark of 16.
Two years ago, the department had 20.5 officers per 10,000 residents. The department handles about 20,000 calls per year, with 800 being handled by each officer. SEMCOG said this is far above the average of 570.
Yuchasz said the number of volunteers has stayed the same over the past few years, but an increase would be helpful.
"They (the volunteers) can be our eyes and ears," Yuchasz said. "It's just a way to supplement the department. ... Something we’ve been working on is increasing the presence in the community for the last five or six years. They (the volunteers) want to do what they can to make neighborhoods better."
Volunteers can work between two and eight hours. Although the volunteers aren't sworn officers, Yuchasz said they make residents feel safe.
The academy will take place in the late spring and classes will meet for about two hours on Thursday evenings for total of five weeks. Yuchasz said the academy has been in place for more than 10 years, but it's been a few years since the department has hosted one.
"We just like to offer people the opportunity to see what we do on a daily basis," Yuchasz said. "... They get exposed to stuff on TV, but we want to give them a realistic perspective."
Participants will obtain training and experience to familiarize them with the department in the following areas:
- Community policing practices and Volunteer Service Corps
- Patrol tactics and the detective bureau
- Crime scene investigation
- K-9 and narcotics investigations
- Self defense and SWAT operations
Officers who are trained in each area of expertise will teach courses over the five week academy and at the end, participants will be given the chance to do ride-alongs with the department.
Those who complete the Citizens Academy may be given the opportunity to join the Volunteer Service Corps. In addition to patrols, volunteers help with special community events such as parades and festivals.
Yuchasz said each VSC member has a uniform and is provided a radio, allowing them to communicate with dispatch or the department.
"They assist us with traffic because some of the events are so large we don’t have the personnel to cover all street closures," Yuchasz said.
The upcoming Color Run event, which is expected to bring more than 14,000 people to Ypsilanti in May, will result in several street closures, Yuchasz said.
"The people that are in the corp right now will participate in that and will handle traffic and advise how to get through it," he said. "They'll work right alongside us."
A hard deadline has not been set yet for those interested in applying, but Yuchasz said he would like to receive applications by the end of April.
For more information or an applicaton, contact Yuchasz at Byuchasz@cityofypsilanti.com or at 734-483-9510.