Volunteers pursue public safety through police program

Making a difference as a police volunteer


Ada Li

A volunteers-on-patrol unit from the LASD Walnut-Diamond Bar station.

Through the Los Angeles Sheriff Department’s Volunteers on Patrol program, local volunteers are providing “additional eyes and ears in the community.” Participants, supplied with vehicles and uniforms, are tasked with preventing crime by mere presence or by identifying public hazards.

Volunteers patrol the community and notify authorities of potential threats.

Floyd Simmons, 66, has been a volunteer of the LASD Walnut-Diamond Bar station for eight years.

Floyd Simmons is an eight-year volunteer of the LASD VOP program. (Ada Li)

“At first I got tricked into it, in a good way,” Simmons said. “And then I found out the VOP itself is something you have to take pride in, wanting to take your community back, see what you can do for your community. ”

Simmons said the work was unpaid but gratifying.

”When you see the smiles that you get from the kids and just the high fives and everything, it means the world to you,” he said.

Simmons primarily patrols in three cities, Walnut, Diamond Bar and Rowland Heights.

“When you go out on vacation, you let the station know that you’re going to be gone for the length of time. And we will check your property for you,” he said.

Volunteers also check the storefronts, parks and schools.

“You think it can be easy, there’s really nothing hard about it, it’s more the safety part of it,” he added.

Simmons is also a trainer for new volunteers. He said, “The training itself can consist of knowing the codes because law enforcement has their own language.” He said these codes will speed up the communication between volunteers and police officers.

A VOP car parking on the street. (Ada Li)

Just like full-time police officers, volunteers sometimes encounter emergencies while patrolling, but they handle those situations differently.

“As long as we encounter criminal cases, robbery cases or theft cases, we will report to the police station and they will deal with them immediately,” said T.J. Xie, a new volunteer. “So VOP is a safe job.”

Xie said he just wants to protect the city he lives in and he is doing so by being a VOP.

“The criminal sees our patrol car here, he will go to other places, thinking that this community is very troublesome and dangerous. That’s our purpose,” he said.

Xie also advises people not to leave anything in their cars, saying, “Whether it’s a bag, a box or something covered by clothes, it will give criminals an opportunity to smash your window.”

If you see something, say something, Simmons advised.

Although there are many volunteers patrolling communities, schools, churches and plazas, crimes will inevitably occur. They advise the public to increase safety awareness in daily life.

Vehicle warning issued by the VOP. (Ada Li)

VOPs are required to be at least 18 years old, have never been convicted of a crime and must not be addicted to any substances, including alcohol and prescription drugs.

More information can be found on the LASD website.