Police begin academy for citizen volunteers

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Linda Davis is 65-years-old woman, and, like many of her neighbors, she is tired of the fear of being a crime victim that keeps her from going outdoors after dark.

"I figure I'm being held hostage in my home," said Davis.

So, she decided to do something about it. Davis was one of several people to participate in the first-ever Citizen Volunteer Unit organized by Bakersfield police. The idea is to train community residents in several aspects of police work and have them become an extra set of eyes and ears for police as they patrol their community.

"Basically, what they're doing is supplementing services that we already provide," said Carina Ortiz with the Crime Prevention Unit of the Bakersfield Police Department.

Those participating in the first Citizen Volunteer Unit included college students, retired people, professionals and ordinary community residents.

Participants are required to attend a four-week academy one day a week held at the police department headquarters on Truxtun Avenue. The minimum age to join is 18, and applicants must successfully pass a background check.

Ortiz said volunteers will fill a variety of roles in the department, such as providing home safety checks for vacationing residents, typing reports, entering data and other office task. Others will be patrolling the streets in their communities.

Volunteers will be uniformed.

The next academy begins in 2014. Anyone interested in participating can drop off an application at the police department headquarters or at the Westside Police Substation at 1301 Buena Vista Road.

For more information, contact Ortiz with the Crime Prevention Unit at (661) 326-3052.