You may notice more police marked vehicles patrolling Newark streets looking for criminal activity thanks to the launch of the police department’s citizen patrolling program.
The citizen patrolling sector of the Newark Police Department’s R.A.V.E.N. volunteer program is its newest push for residents to become more involved in crime prevention throughout the city.
R.A.V.E.N. stands for Ready Active Volunteers Engaged in Newark and its volunteers take on assignments dealing with patrol, traffic, community engagement, graffiti abatement and administration, according to the city website.
There are more than 50 volunteers who assist the police department in various capacities but seven have recently been authorized to patrol the city to report suspicious activities to police officers, according to Community Engagement Manager Donna Shearn.
Shearn, a retired police commander, oversees the department’s volunteer programs on a part-time basis.
Citizen patrolling has been wanted by the police department for several years and became possible this year with the 2010 passing of Measure U, a voter-approved tax that generates approximately $2.3 million per year for five years.
Becoming a volunteer who patrols, however, was a lengthy process, Shearn said.
Volunteers patrol neighborhoods in pairs by using marked vehicles while in uniform, but none are permitted to apprehend suspects, Shearn said. Their primary task is to “be the extra eyes and ears in the field,” she added.
Part of their tasks is to assist in carrying out home checks as part of the department’s Vacation Home Checks program in which residents can request that their homes be looked after while they are out of town.
Each volunteer who can patrol took part in a minimum of 40 hours of training and are required to learn radio codes and the department’s policies and procedures and pass an extensive background check.
Shearn said her hope is to gradually increase the number of volunteers who aide the police department.
“I want people to volunteer and I want to have jobs they want to do,” Shearn said. “I want a group of people who are enthusiastic about participating and are a good representative of the department and of the city.”
In regards to the R.A.V.E.N. volunteer program as a whole, Shearn said she hopes to continue expanding the department’s Neighborhood Watch program and eventually establish a similar program for businesses around town.
Applications to become a R.A.V.E.N. volunteer are being accepted year-round, but Shearn said training for volunteer programs will likely be completed twice a year in the fall and spring.
The minimum qualifications for the R.A.V.E.N. volunteer program are:
- Minimum age of 18 years old
- Lives or works in Newark
- High School Graduate or equivalent
- Fingerprint Clearance (FBI/DOJ)
- Be of good moral character, as determined by background investigation
- Satisfactory medical condition
- Ability to commit 10 hours per month to program
- Approval of Chief of Police
- Valid California driver’s license (if tasks require driving)
- Graduate of Newark Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy (preferred)
For more information, visit http://www.newark.org/departments/police/community-engagement/r-a-v-e-n.