Ride along with Rockford Police, answer questions from downtown visitors, write out a ticket for someone parking illegally in a handicapped parking space. These are among the duties of Rockford’s volunteer police force and you are welcomed to join up.
According to Michigan’s Volunteer of the Year Linda Crone, who is a loyal member of the team who logged in over 500 volunteer hours on the force in 2008, the job is rewarding.
“It’s pretty flexible, you can volunteer for many different duties, such as the Rockford Youth Night Out this Friday. We check on people’s homes when they are out of town and visit shut-ins. I’m pretty nosy so it all looks interesting to me,” Crone said. Crone enjoys riding around Rockford in the police jeep in the winter and in the golf cart in the summer. Volunteers can hit the White Pine Trail to watch for mischief or a chance to offer help or enjoy a day at the Welcome Center at 12 Squires Street. There visitors ask for everything from advice on where to go to eat to directions. “Husband and wife teams are allowed, so you can be on patrol together. It’s good for retirees. I’m a very friendly person, so I love it because you get to meet so many people and talk.”
Crone points out that the Police Department is careful their volunteers aren’t put in dangerous situations that the more trained officers sometimes face. They will never be expected to make an arrest, take part in a chase or confront obnoxious individuals. The police do the hard work and let the volunteers enjoy the “lighter side” of police work.
“There’s nothing rocket science about it,” said Crone. “Anyone can do it.” Applications are available at the Welcome Center and training is provided by the Rockford Police. Crone said her training consisted of a few drive-alongs with the police and advice on how to handle different situations. The volunteer force consists of 15 members currently and members are only required to put in 16 hours a month. “It’s a lot of fun. I love the summer when we get to ride up and down the White Pine Trail in the golf cart.”