Volunteers in Police Service
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The Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) are a group of concerned citizens who donate their time as uniformed personnel. Volunteers are utilized in a non-confrontational manner. They have no arrest powers, and carry no weapons. This limits their duties to areas that are non-enforcement in nature. The Port Orange Police Department has turned this group of volunteers into an asset for the citizens of Port Orange.

Through the Police Department has only 84 sworn officers, the VIPS presently have 55 members under the direction of the VIPS Police Coordinator. In a growing city such as Port Orange, traffic safety is among our highest concerns. With one of the smallest per capita police forces in the State of Florida, sworn personnel are often busy responding to calls or other assignments. Traffic programs are therefore sometimes difficult to staff. The VIPS have been organized into an extremely effective tool that can fill gaps in the following areas:

Traffic Crash Response
VIPS are equipped and trained to respond to traffic crashes when requested. They assist patrol officers by assuming some traffic control duties. All of the participating volunteers receive the state mandated course on traffic direction. This additional manpower increases efficiency and decreases the risk of additional crashes.

Special Events
The VIPS control traffic points during special events such as Bike Week, Speed Weeks, Spring Break, Family Days, Independency Day celebration, and the annual Christmas parade.

School Crossings
Volusia County mans many school intersections with crossing guards. These guards are not permitted or trained to direct traffic, only cross children. The City of Port Orange currently has seven schools within its city limits, with an eight under construction. Many are located on streets which become highly congested during times when schools are opening and closing for the day, such as Herbert Street and Taylor Road. The VIPS may be requested to direct traffic in these areas to help manage traffic flow. They may also assist in crossing students at intersections not manned by crossing guards.

STEP Zones
Under the Department's Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, the VIPS may be assigned to areas that have generated citizen complaints relating to traffic conditions. VIPS presence serves several purposes. Foremost, It is an immediate response for the citizen. The marked unit is a deterrent to traffic violators, and it provides the traffic division with information on actual problems that the area may be experiencing. For example, if there is a complaint that a residential stop sign is constantly being disregarded, the VIPS may be assigned to investigate. They will respond in a marked VIPS patrol car and monitor the stop sign over several days, reporting their findings to the traffic division. The original complainant has seen the marked unit, traffic safety has been increased, and information has been gathered on the need for further enforcement by sworn officers.

Vacation House Watch
This is one of the most important duties the VIPS perform. By completing the Vacation House Watch form, a citizen is notifying the Department that they will be away from home for a specific period of time, not to exceed 90 days. During that time, the VIPS will check the house routinely, as manpower permits, to detect and prevent criminal activity. The Department does not guarantee any minimum level of surveillance or that criminal activity will always be prevented, however it is a valuable service that is provided to citizens that are temporarily away from home.

Other Activities
VIPS are equipped and trained to handle numerous support services for the Department, including courier service, fingerprinting, bicycle registration and equipment maintenance. They perform services in virtually every division.

The VIPS could easily have developed into a "club" for volunteers with no actual direction. After recognizing the need for services such as Vacation House Watches and traffic control, the program has developed into a successful operation with membership nearly equal to that of the sworn personnel. Though there is not one single initiative that has been enumerated, the VIPS are a highly effective, flexible tool that has been designed to serve the public by pursuing all areas of public safety. If you are interested in becoming part of the VIPS team, call 386-506-5825 for an application.

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