|Members of the Search and Rescue Posse coordinating search efforts for an overdue hiker.|
|Citizen on Patrol (COP) volunteers manning the Country Thunder DUI processing center.|
|Members of the PCSO Explorer Post 1875 participating in a community service clean-up project.|
PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – The week of April 21st through April 27th is National Volunteer Week. This week celebrates volunteers and recognizes them for their service to their communities. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office proudly recognizes its 11 different volunteer units that tirelessly serve the citizens of Pinal County.
Pinal County remains one of the fastest growing counties in Arizona. The county encompasses 5,386 square miles with nearly 400,000 residents with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office providing the primary law enforcement service to the majority of residents. Such growth naturally leads to increased calls and needs for service; yet, the increase in budget needed to grow the Sheriff’s Office staff has not been obtainable. With more than 350 volunteers tirelessly assisting the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office volunteering more over 100,000 hours this past year, citizens of Pinal County can see a visible decrease in emergency response times and safer neighborhoods. These volunteers serve a critical mission of supporting law enforcement and serving victims of crimes.
Last year, the members of our PCSO Patrol Posse worked a total of total 20,698 hours. Posse members assisted with crime scene security, traffic control, assisting deputies on patrol, transportation of prisoners and other areas which would have normally tied up a patrol deputy. Their efforts alone, in 2012, saved Pinal County taxpayers a total of $601,000 which it would have cost our office in deputy salaries.
Just this month, the PCSO Search and Rescue Posse members have volunteered over 2,000 hours in time to aid in searches. This past weekend, seven members of the SAR posse searched overnight for a missing seven-year-old child in the Red Rock area and were able to locate her safely and reunite her with her family.
Another example of the invaluable help the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office receives from its volunteers was evident at this year’s Country Thunder event. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office orchestrated a heavy DUI taskforce presence. The Citizens on Patrol (COP) members volunteered their time to run our intake facility where impaired drivers were processed allowing deputies to focus on patrol duties. In addition, members of COPs serve their communities through regular patrols reporting "suspicious" activity. The group also performs “House Watch” for vacation and absent residents drastically reducing theft and damage crimes in their communities. Last year, COP volunteers donated over 12,812 hours with a wage equivalency savings to Pinal County taxpayers of $277,168.
Through volunteers the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office also provide Victims’ Services and Chaplain support to any member of the community that has been affected by a traumatic incident. The volunteers in these units respond to assist deputies with crime victims, witnesses and survivors.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office also has a volunteer Reserves unit. These sworn law enforcement personnel volunteer their time and do the same job as our sworn deputies. Their service has saved countless lives and landed suspects behind bars.
Through volunteers in the Administrative unit, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has established a model Sex Offender Notification Registry that has been adopted by other law enforcement agencies. Volunteers man the Pinal County Cold Case Squad which strives to bring justice to survivors of violent crimes.
The PCSO Explorers Post 1875 is a youth-based group that allows teens interested in law enforcement a community service and career-oriented program. While learning key leadership skills the Explorers participate in endless community service project to better the community.
Pinal County Sheriff’s Office also boasts a large volunteer corp that services the Adult Detention Center population. These ministry volunteers and life skill and education volunteers help give new direction to inmates by providing them with guidance and tools to stop the recidivism.
Sheriff Paul Babeu said “ In light of today’s economy where there is a lack of funding for critical components of law enforcement, residents of Pinal County can rest assured that our Sheriff’s Office and our many volunteers will be there when needed. Outside of their countless hours serving the communities these volunteers make commitment to extensive training, equipment purchases and service our community with a minimal cost to the county. Each one of these volunteers is a crucial member of our law enforcement team and we thank them for their gift of service to Pinal County