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CCPD shows appreciation for its volunteers

By Staff | Feb 12, 2015

Thomas LePointe didn’t volunteer at the Cape Coral Police Department to earn awards or accolades. For him, it was a way to give back.

But after devoting 1,775 hours of his time despite summering for three months in New Hampshire, the CCPD couldn’t help it as LePointe was feted with Volunteer of the Year honors at the volunteer appreciation luncheon Wednesday at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.

LePointe who came on as a volunteer last year after a year spent “watching TV,” worked more than 1,000 hours in his “rookie season” before putting in what amounts to a full-time job this year, working on patrol and training those who came out of the volunteer academy.

“I love what I’m doing. I’m retired and I’m paying it forward. My son is a policeman and I feel I’m helping him by helping these officers,” LePointe said. “I’m proud to represent these people because I’m just one of the 188 who do the job.”

LePointe said he was surprised until he noticed that almost his entire family came down from the Boston area for the event.

“That’s when it rang a bell,” LePointe laughed.

The police department treating the volunteers to lunch was the least it could do following a record breaking year across the board.

Dana Coston, CCPD spokesperson, said this is one of the fun events the department holds annually.

“This is our opportunity to get our command staff here and show our appreciation for the hard work they do,” Coston said.

Along with the top commanders, Mayor Marni Sawicki, City Manager John Szerlag and several council members, including five-year police volunteer, Rana Erbrick, were also there.

Rib City provided the food.

A record 188 volunteers gave 56,857 hours of their time, an increase of more than 9,500 hours, doing things such a directing traffic during accidents, marine patrol, administrative and archive work, for a cost savings to the department of more than $1.2 million in like services.

While the impact on the budget is significant, the impact on the department is even greater, so much that you can’t put a value on it.

“They provide services such as vacation house checks, augment us when there’s an injury crash when we have to close roads and direct traffic,” Coston said. “That keeps us from having to use our limited resources to direct traffic and keep an officer on the street.”

Police Chief Bart Connelly said these numbers were reached after he eliminated the cap that was put on volunteers in the department shortly after becoming chief.

“I was told we had a cap of 150 volunteers. When I asked why we had it, it was because it was always that way, and I hated that,” Connelly said. “What they provide for us is invaluable, we would not be successful without the things they do.”

Among the honorees were Lapointe, Vince Spanti, Joe Cobb, Dave Mackey and Roger Novak, all of whom won volunteer recognition awards for their time of service, while Jerry Freitas, Erick Kurz, Ted Lundgren and Frank Miranda earned 10-year awards. More than 30 others earned achievement awards that ran the gamut of what they do.

Many, like Viola Irons, said they don’t do it for the awards, but for the satisfaction of helping the city’s finest do their job of protecting their citizens.

“I value it highly. I work at the front desk and do fingerprinting. That’s important to them and I’m sure it saves money. I don’t mind giving back because I’m a retired teacher,” Irons said. “They always tell us thank you, even the chief and officers. This is a way to give back.”