Thousands of law enforcement agencies around the country and internationally are using volunteers to supplement public safety and crime prevention efforts. VIPS, or Volunteers in Police Service, never replace officers. Rather, they offer support to allow agencies to provide additional services, maintain positive relationships with the public, free up officers’ time for higher level duties, and maximize impact in the community.
Police Chief Dan Jones suggested creating the VIPS program in Gorham as the police department hopes to utilize the talents and interests of the individual volunteers to maximize the benefit to the community and the experience for the volunteers.
VIPS volunteers will be required to pass a criminal background check, receive training in various technical and safety protocols, be at least 18 years of age and be able to commit a minimum of five hours per month. Applications are available at Gorham PD.
Gorham residents who had previously been a part of the Cumberland County (CCSO) VIPS program have decided to take part in this local program which will be dedicated to providing services in Gorham. In addition, six other Gorham residents, most of whom have attended the Gorham Citizen’s Police Academy, have also joined the Gorham VIPS program.
Nearly 55% of the events in which the VIPS participated this past year were in Gorham with services provided to many non-profits in Gorham as well as to Gorham Recreation Department. VIPS primarily do citizen patrols. They also help with traffic control after accidents, road closures, power failures, parades, special events, etc. VIPS personnel also perform property and wellness checks, assist with the Yellow Dot Program and help the Gorham PD with some administrative tasks, drug take back assistance, distracted driving simulation, traffic/seatbelt surveys and any other non-law enforcement tasks that can free up officers.
Gorham VIPS began its work on January 1, and will be available if the CCSO VIPS needs assistance. CCSO will likewise be available to Gorham as needed. Don Sedenka will serve as president of the Gorham VIPS. Buffy Houp will be the Volunteer Coordinator, James Robinson will be Secretary, and Dawn Beaulieu will be the Treasurer.
VIPS is a self-funded, not for profit, organization and is now in the process of fundraising on GoFundME to replace the uniforms and safety equipment that had to be returned to CCSO VIPS.