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Cape Police Department recognizes volunteers

By Staff | Jan 27, 2011

Members of the Cape Coral Police Department’s Volunteer Unit were recognized Thursday for their dedication and efforts over the past year.
The Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, held at the Cape Coral Yacht Club, provides the police department with the opportunity to honor and thank its volunteers for the work they have done and the time they have sacrificed.
“To express our appreciation for what the unit did,” said Sgt. Mike Catania, who oversees the Volunteer Unit as part of the Special Operations Bureau.
The unit was created in 1991.
Volunteers help with administrative work or are assigned to road patrol or the marine division, according to Catania. Road patrol duties involve traffic control at crashes, enforcing parking violations and vacation home checks.
The police department currently has about 110 volunteers.
Vincent Spanti, who has been with the Volunteer Unit since moving to the Cape in 2003, was presented the Volunteer of the Year award. Despite two brain surgeries last year, Spanti continued to volunteer at the department.
He is assigned to road patrol.
“I was embarrassed because I’m not one to step into the limelight,” Spanti said of first learning that he would be receiving the award. “I just like what I do, and the people are great.”
Retired from the Navy after 20 years, Spanti served at the volunteer fire company in Monroe, N.Y., for about 16 years before he and his wife moved to Cape Coral. With no new fire group to join, he picked “the next best thing.”
For Spanti, volunteering is not about accolades.
“I figure I’m just giving back to the community,” he said.
Last year, Spanti clocked more than 900 volunteer hours.
“He’s quiet about what he does,” interim Police Chief Jay Murphy, who presented the awards Thursday, said. “He just goes about his business.”
Other volunteers noted for the total hours they put in were:
* Jerry Monor, with 718 patrol hours
* Richard Wilson, with 281 marine hours
* Joe Cobb, with 266 marine hours
* Ellen Nagy, with 451 administrative hours
* Tony Ervolino, with 437 administrative hours
According to Murphy, the total hours donated by the Volunteer Unit in 2010 was worth an estimated $752,176. That is a 30 percent increase over 2009.
“If you add the two years together, the police Volunteer Unit has provided more than $1.3 million of in-kind services to the residents of Cape Coral,” he said. “I can’t wait to see the numbers for 2011.”
Mayor John Sullivan, who was in attendance, also praised the volunteers.
“They’re really supporting the city,” he said. “And they’re saving us a lot of money.”
Also recognized were those volunteers who reached the five-year and 10-year mark with the Volunteer Unit. The following individuals were honored for dedicating 10 years to the department:
* Hugo Juarez
* Mike Meehan
* Cpl. Phyllis Patterson
* Salvatore Recca
The following received the five-year award: Tim Andel; Adolph Cecula; Patricio De Guzman; Lawrence Flacone; Jerry Freitas; Sgt. Tom Golembeski; Judith Harvey; Ed Johnson; Erick Kurz; Ted Lundgren; Sgt. Jim McKinley; Cpl. Frank Miranda; Mike Neves; Anne Rankin; Richard Reichenbach Jr.; Angelo Scaperotta; Pat Schulkins; Sgt. Rich Servello; Spani; Earl Stafford; Gary Torgerson; and Brian Weiss.
Capt. Joe Hartley, who heads up the Volunteer Unit and is a volunteer himself, was selected by the command staff to receive the Chief’s Special Recognition Award. Murphy said the unit has taken on more responsibility over the years and Hartley has taken the changes in stride.
“Joe’s leadership has been instrumental,” he said.
To all of the members of the Volunteer Unit, Murphy thanked them for their service and what skills they have brought to the table to make a difference.
“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer,” he said.
For more information on the police department’s Volunteer Unit or how to become a volunteer, contact Hartley at 242-3346 or jhartley@capecoral.net.