Three new members of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Volunteers in Protection (VIP) program, part of the Sheriff’s Auxiliary volunteer units, were sworn in on Thursday September 14th by Sheriff David Rhodes after completing training in the 33rd VIP Patrol Academy.
The members, Randall Duncan of Prescott Valley, Helen Graham of Black Canyon City and Chris Hartman of the Village of Oak Creek will be assisting deputies on non-confrontational calls, conducting vacation checks for homeowners, working traffic control and other assignments as needed. The VIPs will now complete a minimum of 104 hours of field training before being released for solo work.
The volunteers in this program undergo the same rigorous background checks as sworn personnel, and for those that work in field positions such as Patrol or Jail Transport, must meet Arizona POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) Certified Deputy firearms training, undergo psychological testing, and conform to established physical fitness standards.
The VIP program began in 1995 after then Sheriff G.C. “Buck” Buchanan saw the need to create a program that would incorporate volunteers into the Sheriff’s Office through a Community Oriented Policing program that had never been tried before. The program’s concept was to go beyond traditional ideas of a neighborhood watch, by providing in depth classroom and field training to a group of committed volunteers, who could assist deputies with calls for service in their communities beyond just their own immediate neighborhood. The program has expanded over the years to include VIPs working with other departments within the agency as well.
Since 1995, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office has conducted 33 academies, yielding close to 500 volunteers throughout the years. Currently there are 22 patrol members, 12 members within the Criminal Investigations Division and 6 administrative members working miscellaneous clerical functions.
“This value of the VIPs to this agency can’t be understated.” Said Sheriff David Rhodes. “As we have struggled in the past to employ enough deputies to patrol the over 8000 sq miles of the County, and fulfill critical functions within other departments, the highly trained members of the VIP program have been a lifeline to YCSO for almost 30 years”.
For more information on the VIP program, please visit VIP (Volunteers in Protection) YCSOAZ.gov.