Rockford Volunteer Services Unit (VSU) members recently attended the first Citizen’s Police Academy held at the MSP Training Academy in Lansing on June 26 and 27, 2009. The event was held for all Michigan Citizen Corps volunteers and included sessions on evidence collection and crime scene containment, crash reconstruction, traffic control, witness recognition and exercise, and ethics. Also included was a tour of the MSP training facility, drive track (including a “quick” ride), K-9 facility, ES team, HazMat training center and bomb squad demonstration. Meals were provided by the Salvation Army (as a training exercise for them, also). The attending members of the Rockford VSU thoroughly enjoyed the event and look forward to using the new information in serving the Rockford community.
The same holds true for any organization. The Rockford community has a jewel in its volunteer police officers. Situated in the heart of downtown Rockford, the Rockford Police Department Volunteer Service Unit (VSU) officers patrol our charming community searching for parking violations, sidewalks in disrepair or in need of shoveling, as well as patrolling trails as needed, helping shut-ins, and checking on the homes of citizens who are on vacation. In addition to those duties, VSU officers answer questions at their downtown “headquarters,” the Welcome Center in the heart of downtown Rockford. VSU officers serve at special events such as the Start of Summer celebration, National Night Out, parades, and other community activities. They help with traffic control, crowd control, and in other ways. They have two vehicles for their patrols-a donated Jeep Cherokee and a golf cart with police lights. They have the authority to approach someone who is breaking the law and they have the means to call for back up. All volunteers are equipped with a walkie-talkie that is a direct line to the Rockford Police Department dispatchers, who oversee the VSU. Any sign of trouble is immediately called in to dispatch and a police officer is sent to their location without delay. The VSU officers don’t get paid monetarily; they get paid with feelings of pride by helping to make their community safer, cleaner, and happier. One such volunteer, Jim Herdegen, retired from Steelcases’ manufacturing engineering division. He has been volunteering with the VSU for over three years and has also been at God’s Kitchen in Grand Rapids for six years. Prior to his stint downtown he volunteered at the Michigan Community Blood Center. He volunteers his time because he likes being able to meet people from all over including, England and Ireland. He recalls a story of how a woman from west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin had ridden her bike to Rockford and was looking for trail information. Moments after he sent this woman on her way to a local restaurant, a couple from the Rockford area came into the Welcome Center looking for trails to get them to Wisconsin. He quickly told this couple to go to the restaurant and find the woman that he spoke to minutes before. When […]