BUCKHANNON — The Buckhannon Police Department’s Volunteers in Police Service program is in its fifth year of serving the community.
Chief Matt Gregory said at the Dec. 20 Buckhannon City Council meeting VIPS is a volunteer program that is designed to assist the police department.
VIPS have been known to help with traffic control, crowd control and special events.
“If you could think of a special event that occurred in our community, 9.9 times out of 10 it would probably have VIPS representation,” Gregory said. “The VIPS organization is growing and for some members on the council you have seen [the number of people in this] room get bigger and bigger.”
Gregory said the program is growing, but that every member still has a connection with the police.
“It pleases me tremendously to see that it works, that we can embrace and connect with our community in the manner that we are because not only is it an assistance to us with these programs, not only do they represent well, but we’re able to make a connection on a personal basis with each and every member of the community.”
Gregory said VIPS is always looking for more volunteers and they currently have some applications pending.
“VIPS in fact, outnumbers the police department,” Gregory said. “There are more VIPS than there are officers and that is generally the case whenever we go to an event.”
Gregory used the Christmas parade as an example where VIPS outnumbered the officers when he said they had five officers in attendance and seven or eight VIPS members helping with traffic and crowd control.
Gregory said VIPS had accumulated over 1,300 hours of volunteering altogether and if they used an average wage calculator and if they were paid, the city is realizing savings of $27,000.
“I truly cannot say enough about these volunteers,” Gregory said. “They are a godsend to the department, to the city and the community to the point where I really don’t know how we functioned without volunteers prior to the inception of this program.”
Gregory brought certificates on behalf of the city to award each of the members of VIPS and some members were also presented with Presidential Volunteer Service Awards because of their amount of hours spent in the program.
The VIPS coordinator Steve Wykoff said the award recognizes adult and junior volunteers, for members 16 to 25 it require 100 to 174 hours per year to receive the bronze level award, 175-249 hours to receive a silver level award and 250 plus hours to receive a gold level award.
From an adult standpoint, 26 and older a member must have 100 to 249 hours to receive a bronze level award, 250 to 499 to receive a silver level award and over 500 hours to receive a gold level award. Wykoff said they had several volunteers who had achieved the bronze and silver award. Winners of the bronze award included Linda Coleman with 101 hours in the year, Scott Coleman with 100.25 hours and Jamie Hasbrouck with 119 hours.
The silver level of the award went to Anita Coleman with 340 hours in the year, Steve Wykoff with 269.25 hours and David Rowan with 315.5 hours.