Have you ever thought about giving back to the community in a way that not only helps others but may also stop serious crime and injury in the neighborhood? The Senior Volunteer Patrol is the perfect opportunity for anyone who is fifty-five years or older, in good health, can drive and is open to learning new things. This program is designed to draw upon the experience of senior citizens from our communities and add another element to the safety patrols of our Sheriff’s Department.
In Alpine, Charles Sinclair, (known to his friends as Chuck) has taken the reins of the Senior Volunteer Patrol, following in the footsteps of Pat Bowles who held the director’s position previously. Sinclair readily admits that Bowles is his mentor, and says that her ten to twelve years of dedication was a true inspiration.
The Senior Volunteer Patrol in Alpine are actively patrolling in patrol vehicles (marked with volunteer labeling) in all areas of the Alpine beat, which includes Alpine, Crest, Blossom Valley, Flynn Springs, Dehesa, and Japatul Valley. Sinclair describes the route as a really big loop. They also stop in at the Viewpoint on Interstate 8 to check to make sure everything is okay.
The Senior Volunteer’s job is primarily to be a face, (as well as eyes and ears) for the Sheriff’s Department. They do Home Vacations Checks while residents are away on vacation, they have a program called YANA (You Are Not Alone) where the senior patrol does a weekly personal visit to a home bound senior, or disabled person living my themselves. They are available to help you with abandoned vehicle abatement, when vehicles have been left in your neighborhood and have not been moved for an extended period. They also maintain an Alzheimer’s Directory where they will come to your residence and take a photograph of your loved one. The log book is strictly confidential but will assist law enforcement personnel to identify and return a citizen to their home if they should wander away or become disoriented. They also assist in Child ID Fingerprinting & ID Cards.
All of the services that the Senior Volunteers provide to the community are not only helpful and necessary, but they free up the deputies to work on other tasks that keep the peace and public safety.
The Senior Volunteers, while on duty are normally patrolling constantly, and are in regular communications with the same dispatch as the Sheriff’s deputies. They check in with the dispatch, and if, while on patrol, they find anything out of the ordinary, they contact a deputy immediately. In Alpine they have been responsible for stopping situations from growing into serious concerns. While on regular patrol, when they find an open door at a home they are vacation checking, they make sure that every thing is okay. Whether they find running water, or a burning candle, they are there to once again make sure everything is okay.
As Charles Sinclair says, “This is my opportunity to pay back the community”. Age is only a factor if it impairs your health or mobility. One volunteer, Natale Ballestri is 89 years old and has been volunteering with the department for over fifteen years.
Ballesteri is a spunky Italian from Sicily, and knows his job. He appreciates the chance to work. He has over 15,000 hours of volunteering in, and is happy to do it.
For more information on how you can become a San Diego County Sheriff’s Senior Volunteer, you can visit their website at www.sdsheriff.net/co_svp.html.