According to Riverside County Sheriff’s officials, public safety is everybody’s business and the department provides citizens with countless volunteer opportunities to serve their community.
During last month’s Volunteer Appreciation week, sheriff’s officials from throughout Riverside County showed their volunteers appreciation with banquets, luncheons, presentations, gifts and in social media posts.
“Our volunteers assist the San Jacinto Police Department with DUI checkpoints, special events, critical incidents, clerical, logistics and citizen’s patrol,” one sheriff’s San Jacinto Police Department official said. “We are very proud and so thankful for all of the hard work our volunteers do. We appreciate each and every one.” Sheriffs’ officials in other communities like Hemet and Temecula praised their volunteers as well.
Covering more than 7,200 square miles and at roughly 180 miles wide Riverside County has terrain varying from desert landscapes to woodland areas and from lakes and rivers to rocky, mountainous areas.
Each individual community’s needs are different in terms of population, surroundings and lifestyle with the Sheriff’s Department contracted by both large incorporated cities and smaller unincorporated communities. This diversity ensures many volunteer opportunities to help the sheriff’s department.
Volunteers play a key role
“Volunteers have always played a key role in law enforcement. By involvement in their community, citizens may determine the character of life at their own doorstep,” say Sheriff’s officials on the department’s website.
“As the Sheriff of Riverside County, I fully believe in the value of the Citizen Volunteer Program and encourage you to join our law enforcement team,” Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff said. “There are many avenues available to you to fulfill this goal of making Riverside County a better and safer place to live.”
The RSO has 10 patrol stations and five correctional facilities offering unique ways for volunteers to serve their communities including special opportunities for high school students, in the form of Law Enforcement Exploring.
Volunteers are the departments’ ‘eyes and ears’
Regardless of a person’s individual abilities, age, experience, interest or skills, the sheriff’s department offers a way for just about everyone to serve their community as volunteers. Depending on assignment, volunteer’s hours can be flexible.
Volunteers can work a variety of assignments including clerical support, logistics, crime prevention, investigations, accounting, administrative duties, vehicle maintenance, data entry and many others.
For those interested in playing a more proactive role in their communities, the department has volunteer opportunities including citizen’s patrols, the department’s Reserve Deputy Program and Neighborhood Watch programs.
The department offers volunteer opportunities for those with more specialized skills with the Mounted Posse, Chaplain Corps, Dive Team and Search and Rescue Teams.
Search and Rescue
Search and rescue teams are an “essential component” of the RSO. They are primarily responsible for all search and rescue missions involving lost or stranded persons within Riverside County and may called out to assist the California Mutual Aid System responding to other counties during natural disasters.
“Riverside County Search and Rescue team members are highly trained for their environments,” officials explained. “They can be called into action at a moment’s notice, at any time day or night.”
Volunteer search and rescue teams include Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit, Desert Search and Rescue, Blythe Search and Rescue Assist and Riverside County Search Dogs.
Sheriff’s Mounted Posse members assist with patrol, search and rescue, charity events, crowd control, parade detail and high-visibility, extra-patrol at special events such as Hemet’s Ramona Pageant, Coachella Fest, Temecula’s Balloon and Wine Festival and at malls during holidays.
There are currently seven Mounted Posse Troops in the county, including the Cabazon, Hemet, Indio, Jurupa Valley, Lake Elsinore, Perris and Southwest Stations. The troops are comprised of more than 100 members who use their personal horses for the posse.
Not all members of the mounted posse are riding members, according to sheriff’s officials, who explained many troops welcome volunteers who dedicate their time as ‘ground support.’
Police Explorer Scouts
Police Explorer Scouts is a program administered by the Boy Scouts of America that gives young people between 14 to 21-years-old, a “hands-on look at what a career in law enforcement is really like” and offers “a great start to a law enforcement career,” explained sheriff officials.
Police Explorer Scouts serve their community in various ways such as helping with crowd and traffic control during special events, crime prevention programs, community outreach events and more.
Once they are fully qualified, Explorers can even interact directly with officials and the citizens they serve during a ride-along with uniformed patrol deputies. During the ride-along, the Explorers “become an extra set of eyes and ears for the officers and assist them on various calls,” sheriffs’ officials explained.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the sheriff’s department or who wants to know more about available volunteer positions is encouraged to visit the Riverside County Sheriff’s website or contact their local volunteer coordinator at www.riversidesheriff.org/volunteer/.