Police volunteers find home in Exeter

By Jamie Hunt

The first meeting of the Exeter Police Volunteers on Friday, July 21 took place in there very own office located at 411 E. Pine Street, Suite E, in Exeter, where a large glass window displays &#8220Exeter Police Community Service.”

The meeting, hosted by community officer Bill Phillips, and attended by volunteers Jack Allwardt, John Grimsley, Judy Anderson and Paul Laufer, was focused on the development of the Neighborhood Watch programs, and the Neighborhood Night Out as well as many other crime prevention issues.

Phillips said that he will be at the community service office most of the time, but volunteers will be there when they are available.

There are brochures and pamphlets available at the office about security, safety, and drug and crime awareness. There is some excellent information on bicycle and wheel, and &#8220stranger-danger” for children, besides questions that can be answered by Phillips and volunteer staff.

The Neighborhood Watch program will be the principal focus of the Citizen volunteers, Phillips said, but the volunteers will also coordinate other programs, such as the shut-in program, where the volunteers look after the elderly in the Exeter community that are no longer mobile and have no relatives to help them. Phillips said that he and the volunteers have contacted numerous churches in town and talked with clergy and church members trying to locate seniors and shut-ins in town that they do not know about.

&#8220This is a wonderful program. When I first became chief I wanted to start a volunteer program. Along came Bill Phillips, who wanted to volunteer. Bill and I thought up the program together and got it running with a &#8220big smile on both our faces,” Cliff Bush said, Exeter police chief, &#8220we have a lot of plans for the program.”

There are many other programs in which the volunteers are involved besides Neighborhood Watch and the shut-in program. Phillips said that the volunteers are receiving their CERT training, which stands for Civil Emergency Response Team. Other programs are the school safety program, vacation home check, security home check, code enforcement, abandoned vehicle abatement, merchant downtown patrol and vehicle patrol.

&#8220The main thing is to make Exeter safe for residents and visitors,” said Bush.

The Exeter Police volunteers are funded solely through fundraising and donations according to Phillips, but the lease of the building is paid through an old piece of property owned and rented by the Exeter police department said Bush, who is in charge of it's maintenance.

&#8220We are working with Tulare County Health and Human Services, and they are helping the volunteers learn how to identify and recognize dementia or Alzheimer's,” Phillips said.

&#8220It has been exciting to work the Exeter Police Volunteer Program. They are being proactive in identifying who the seniors and home-bound adults are in their community and understanding their individual needs,” said Laura Silva, Adult Services, Tulare Count Health and Human Services.

&#8220They are striving to be knowledgeable of the resources that are available and connecting them with those services.” She said that TCHHS would like to develop and expand their community services and was exciting and impressed by the Exeter volunteers.

&#8220The volunteers are going to get aggressive and proactive with the community programs. That will help the community help themselves,” Phillips said,

&#8220People who are interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch, please call, and we will send someone out with information and literature.”

The volunteers are planning to have a open house sometime this month at the Exeter Police volunteer office. Residents need to call the Exeter Police Department at 592-3103 to leave messages for the Police volunteers, and their messages will be routed to the volunteers.

The volunteers are now accepting applications for the volunteers. They need to be 25 years or older, said Phillips. Volunteers must be community minded and have no previous criminal record. There will be an interview and a background investigation. Then the volunteer will attend the Police volunteer academy.

&#8220The main thing that a volunteer needs, and they don't have to live in Exeter, is a love for this community, and the people in it,” said Cliff Bush.

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