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Police want volunteers to help patrol

By Michelle San Miguel, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau/Telemundo Anchor, michelle.sanmiguel@krdo.com
Published On: Feb 05 2013 11:27:18 PM CST

Police want volunteers to help patrol

PUEBLO, Colo. -

The Pueblo Police Department needs 24 officers. But 14 of those positions won't be filled this year. The city has a hiring freeze on them while it deals with its $5.5 million deficit.

Officers say they're plenty busy, running from one call to the next. They say their job has become more reactive than proactive.

"We have a lot of officers working overtime," said Sgt. Eric Gonzales of the Pueblo Police Department.

The good news is, come March, 10 officers will be joining the ranks of the Pueblo Police Department. But the bad news is they won't be allowed to patrol the streets alone until December. So the department is turning to volunteers to flood the streets with watchful eyes.

"What's important is to make sure that during the daytime that we have that kind of protection because a lot of people are working during the daytime. There seemed to be an increase in volume of burglaries during the daytime," said Pueblo City Council president Steve Nawrocki.

The police department started a volunteer program in October and has about thirteen volunteers. But Sgt. Gonzales says the department wants to add between 100 to 200 of them.

Gonzales said, "We're trying to train our volunteers to actually run radar guns. If they can run those radar guns then usually that would take three or four street officers to do that. But if we can get two volunteers out there to assist, then those other two officers can go answering calls and go back to working on the streets."

Volunteers will not receive a financial stipend and will not be armed. They will be allowed to issue certain kinds of traffic tickets and help with paperwork.

Those interested in applying to be a volunteer can contact the police department at 719-553-2538 and ask to speak with someone in the community services division.

The police department is working on finding older cars that volunteers can use. Those vehicles will have a volunteer logo on them.

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