Observer volunteers serve essential function for police
Pat Cimini, left, a VCOP and recruiter, joins Leeta Jordan, the VCOP director.
Jennifer H. Monaghan
Have you thought of becoming a VCOP? Leeta Jordan, the first female flight dispatcher in the U.S., now retired, and Pat Cimini, a retired fire chief’s executive, did; and they are happy they did.
VCOP — The Volunteer Citizens Observer Program — officially inaugurated in 1996, is a volunteer group that provides services to all divisions within the Palm Bay Police Department and the City of Palm Bay.
What basically began as an “eyes and ears” function evolved into an essential aspect of the day-to-day operations of the police department. VCOPs perform many duties such as staffing the lobby’s front desk and providing information to citizens to increase their crime awareness.
Currently, there are 42 VCOPs, 40 are seniors; the oldest is 84. Jordan has been a VCOP for seven years and is its director: Cimini joined four months ago and is responsible for recruitment.
“Personally, being a VCOP is very fulfilling in a lot of ways,” Cimini said. “You get to assist the members of the department and, it’s giving back to the community. I like meeting new people, letting people know we’re here and are supportive of the community. It’s fun, and it makes me feel good about myself.”
VCOPs are asked to give 16 hours a month. From her perspective, “their commitment is the same. They do things that would tie up the officer, thus relieving them to do crime investigation” Jordan said.
“And, we would love to have more volunteers,” added Cimini.
Both Jordan and Cimini’s enthusiasm for VCOP is unbounded. They are in the process of implementing a new service for seniors — Stop By and Say Hi — whereby VCOPs will visit seniors in their home for a friendly chat. Volunteer training will start at a later date to be announced.
VCOP needs people who like working with the public and who want to give back to the community. If you are at least 19 years of age, you, too, can be a VCOP.
For more information, call 321-953-8987 or pick up a packet at the front desk in the lobby of the police department, adjacent to City Hall.