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Police Department Community Volunteer Unit seeks applicants

By Staff | Aug 30, 2008

They aren’t police officers, but the Cape Coral Police Department couldn’t do without them. Patrolling the streets, acting as an extra pair of eyes for the department, issuing non-moving traffic citations, keeping Cape waterways safe and directing traffic are some of the things the Community Volunteer Unit does on any given day to help protect their city.

Now the CVU is looking for their community to help them by applying for the Community Volunteer Academy, classes for which begin in October.

“If we can help keep this place safe, we want to do that,” said CVU Lt. Joe Hartley. “We’re the eyes and ears for (CCPD).”

Some of the things trainees will learn during the 40 hours of training required to become a community volunteer officer are patrol techniques, criminal law, communications, procedures and policies. No police or legal background is required to join.

Hartley said it was important to stress that community volunteer officers are not police officers, and that the CVU’s purpose lies in helping the Police Department, not getting involved in criminal investigations.

“We immediately call a police officer,” Hartley said of potential criminal situations. “They’re there within minutes; their response time is terrific.”

The CVU offers a “Vacation House Check” program, which allows Cape Coral residents to request 30 days of surveillance on their home while they are on vacation, free of charge.

For the most part, Cape Coral appreciates the services of the CVU.

“We get letters all the time,” Hartley said.

But of course, there are those instances when a citation for parking in a fire lane or a code violation may leave the violator irate.

“If people look like they’re going to be abusive, we call police and they’re there in minutes. They back us up completely,” said Hartley.

Hartley works with the patrol division, which he said is primarily what they’re seeking students for, but the CVU also has a marine division. About 60 members of the CVU work with the patrol division, while members of the marine division bring that number up to 94.

The marine division focuses on patrolling Cape Coral canals and making sure boaters obey speed limits and other waterway laws. Marine division officers require additional classes specific to boating laws, but many join to help their community and keep in touch with boating.

“I swear some of them could be admirals in the Navy,” Hartley said.

Hartley has been involved in the program for 10 years after retiring, and is proud of the members of the CVU.

“They’re doing a fantastic job,” he said.

Upon completion of training, volunteer officers are placed on a limited probationary period after which they are issued a uniform. Volunteers are required to work a minimum of 16 hours a month to remain active in the program.

To be eligible for the CVU, applicants must have a valid Florida driver’s license, be a Lee County resident, and be 21 years of age or older with a high school GED or equivalent.

All applicants will undergo a background check.

To inquire about the application process, or to learn more about the Community Volunteer Unit with the Cape Coral Police Department, call 242-3346.

The deadline for application is Sept. 30.