Citizen patrol is getting ready to kick off in Denton.
The Denton Police Department and the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association have been working together for about six months to get the Denton Citizen Police Volunteer Program’s citizen patrol in full force.
“It’s long overdue,” said Gary Steele, president of the alumni association.
Steele said citizen patrol programs are widely used in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the dedicated man hours save cities’ police departments thousands of dollars.
In March, Bill Utter Ford provided the program with a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria.
The car made its debut at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival in April after it was “striped” by Cooper’s Copies, said Officer Shane Kizer, who is helping to oversee the program.
Kizer said officials hope to have the car on the street within the next month.
Not just anyone can volunteer to drive the patrol car, he said. Volunteers must be 18 or older; live, work or be a student in the Denton city limits; have a valid driver’s license with a good driving record; and pass a background check. Additionally, Kizer said, hours of training are required.
A citizen patrolling the streets will be easily identifiable, Kizer said. All volunteers will wear blue polo shirts with proper “volunteer” identification on them.
“A volunteer will not be with a weapon of any kind and cannot act as an officer,” Kizer said. “They are able to just be another set of eyes and ears on our streets.”
They might witness a crime and assist in identifying subjects, Kizer said, and police hope that the sight of volunteers on the street might deter some criminals.
“We will definitely have citizens out driving the parking lot at the mall during the Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping season,” Kizer said.
So far, the overall volunteer program has 22 people signed up — all alumni of the 13-week Citizen Police Academy hosted by Denton police.
“It’s going to be great,” Steele said. “Eventually I would like to have a volunteer patrol vehicle for each of the five districts here in the city.”
To sign up to become a volunteer, contact Kizer at 940-349-7241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.