SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Police Department now has more eyes and ears on the streets.
Chief Lori Luhnow swore in eight members of the department's new Volunteers in Policing (VIP) initiative on Friday.
The seven men and one woman unit will wear a special uniform and carry badges. The volunteers are now part of Luhnow's vision for C
ommunity Oriented Policing.
"I'm just super grateful for this gift that people want to give back and they've chosen us," Luhnow said. "There's a lot of organizations they can give to and it means a lot to know that they take an interest in this community."
The volunteers will help with communication between officers and the public, provide police-oriented services to the community, and will even walk the downtown beat.
"We expect this first group on State Street specifically and being that extra level of support for our community," Luhnow said.
The volunteer group is made up of former professors, high school teachers, IT consultants and cyber experts.
"The expertise that these volunteers have, are essential skills to any organization. They bring a level of professionalism that any employer would love to tap in to," Luhnow said.
Former reserve office and retired UCSB Professor Howard Giles will lead the program.
"We are very enthusiastic, and very passionate about giving back to the community," Giles said. "All of the volunteers are very well qualified, very smart and want to give back."
The Santa Barbara Police Foundation is providing the funds for their uniforms and the first level of equipment. The volunteers still need sponsorship for vehicles and transportation.
The first part of their mission was to attend an internal Training Academy Day. They will begin their duties in the near future.