Sep 282011

By Naomi Hatch–

Residents of Snowflake and Taylor have an opportunity to help better their community by volunteering with the Volunteers In Policing (VIP) program and/or the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

“You don’t have to have a lot of experience to volunteer for these things, you just need a healthy body,” said Don Anderson, a retired detective from Fountain Valley, Calif., with experience in corporate security. “It’s wide open to anybody from any walk of life. It’s wide open and you can do something to help the community.

“I noticed an ad when they were getting VIP started and came down to volunteer my services,” said Don, who also is working with the CERT for Snowflake and Taylor.

“Fortunately we can be a lot more use here (VIP), because we don’t have to wait for a national emergency like CERT. We don’t have to be a trained police officer to be a member of VIP,” he continued. “Right now there is not a large number to draw from and the majority are employed.”

Jeri Anderson volunteers in the office of the Snowflake-Taylor Police Department two days a week doing such things as inputing citations.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to serve your community,” she said.

VIP members work security for Snowflake High School home football games, rodeos and parades, and help with traffic control in emergencies.

Jeri noted that there is a training course each volunteer will go through.

The VIP Academy is held in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers (SAV) program.

“After a person applies, they ride with an officer to learn the ropes before the academy starts,” explained Don.

“VIPs are more logistic support for the department. They will back up officers to witness what’s going on and help out as needed,” he said.

STPD Officer Russell Sipes coordinates the VIP program. If you are interested in participating, contact the STPD at 536-7400.

Don also serves as chairman of the Snowflake-Taylor Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is overseen by the Snowflake and Taylor fire departments.

CERT is an organization of community members who have volunteered to partner with local government emergency management and response agencies, with its primary funding coming from grants. The Snowflake-Taylor CERT is a member of the Navajo County Citizen Corps Council (CCC).

“It is a great group of dedicated folks wanting to help our communities,” said Taylor Fire Chief Clint Burden of CERT. “It’s rather surprising to have so many of them volunteering in these hard financial times.

“They have been a great asset at our festivities, as well, helping with security and setting up a medical station.”

CERT members will be trained in decision making, and organizational and practical skills so that they are able to offer immediate assistance to family members, neighbors and associates as they wait for help.

Don Anderson explained that the CERT program is designed to help educate about disaster preparedness, and teaches skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Classroom training and exercises are offered to train members to assist in disasters.

For more information on CERT, contact Snowflake Fire Chief Pat Hancock at 536-7103, ext. 258, or Taylor Fire Chief Burden at 536-7900.

Photo by Naomi Hatch

Active members of the Snowflake-Taylor Police Department Volunteers in Policing program include (left to right) Jeri Anderson, Don Anderson and Dan Fuller. They volunteer their time to help STPD officers with vehicle accidents, the Snowflake High School home football games and as they are needed. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the STPD at 536-7500.