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Award-Winning COPs Program Seeks Recruits

MADERA COUNTY – This week the Madera County Sheriff’s Office will hold an introductory meeting for citizens interested in joining the nationally recognized Citizens On Patrol volunteer organization.

The event is Wednesday Oct. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Sheriff’s Annex, 28281 Avenue 14 in Madera, and anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to attend.

The Madera County Sheriff’s Office’s COPs program has recently been awarded a $5,000 grant from the California Automobile Association for their continued emergency support.

In selecting the COPs program as this year’s recipient, AAA’s Corporate Philanthropy Funding project recognized the volunteer organization for its commitment and contribution to Madera County.

AAA’s selection process is based on “overall benefit to communities in the organization’s service area.” In an email to the Sheriff’s Office, the department was advised that the COPs was a “perfect fit.”

“Knowing that AAA generally supports programs such as Firefighters, Paramedics, Search & Rescue, it’s impressive for our team of volunteers to be included among them,” says the Sheriff’s Office.

In light of a pre-scheduled recruitment meeting to be held on the heels of last Monday’s check presentation, Sheriff Anderson called the timing of the event fortuitous.

The COP concept started in 1999 with one unmarked car and a couple volunteers. More than a decade later that one unit has grown into an entire fleet of marked cars.

Serving on Citizens On Patrol is strictly voluntary. Members not only donate their time but their purse strings to finance critical training and purchase their own uniforms. Every member serves the organization for a certain amount of time each month, patrolling their designated beats in a COPs marked patrol unit.

COPs can be seen routinely patrolling areas that include both sides of the valley, Oakhurst, North Fork, Coarsegold, and Bass Lake.

But Sheriff Anderson says patrolling isn’t their only job.

They not only patrol neighborhoods throughout the entire county, they also conduct house checks for citizens while on vacation. Madera County Sheriff’s COPs are routinely called upon to assist in Search & Rescue missions and man traffic control during criminal investigations. They are trained as first emergency responders, and many are FEMA certified. Most recently they were recruited to handle welfare checks for the newly created Elder Orphans program.

Having garnered a number of statewide awards since its inception, Sheriff Anderson says the COPs program is regarded as one of the most successful volunteer organizations in the nation.

“While our deputies must patrol nearly 3,000 square miles of Madera County, our COPs focus on their specific neighborhoods and streets,” says Sheriff Anderson. “They are truly our department’s second set of eyes and ears. They know their neighbors and their communities better than anyone, which explains why these volunteers are considered so invaluable.”

You must be at least 18 years of age to join. Anyone interested is urged to attend Wednesday’s recruitment meeting. Interested volunteers can also call Community Service Officer Joann Evans at 559-642-3201.

For more information about the COPs Program log on to the Madera County Sheriff’s web site at http://www.madera-county.com/sheriff/ and click on Community Outreach.

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