HPD needs you -- to track down parking and vehicle violations
Attention seniors, retirees, or independently wealthy folks with time on your hands! If you're bored playing golf every day, or if your "honey-do" list keeps getting longer and longer and you want to get out of the house, then there's an opportunity knocking at the door that you may not want to pass up.
The Honolulu Police Department is signing up participants for the Volunteer Special Enforcement Officers Program.
» For more information: Call Sgt. Emilio Laganse at 529-3136.
How about helping our community by signing up for the new Volunteer Special Enforcement Officers Program?
In 2003, when I was a Honolulu City Councilman representing West Oahu from Ewa to the Waianae Coast, I authored and introduced legislation creating a volunteer policing program within the Honolulu Police Department. The bill was intended to set up a volunteer force of citizens to patrol neighborhoods keeping an eye out for abandoned vehicles and parking violations.
I got the idea from speaking to Neighborhood Security Watch volunteers in my district who were fed up with crime and drug abuse that was threatening our kamaaina way of life. These folks were feeling powerless and wanted a way to plug in and take their communities back. Additionally, I saw the program as a way of freeing up our police officers so they could go after the rapists, murderers and other violent criminals.
I researched and found out that there were nearly 30,000 Neighborhood Security Watch volunteers on the island. We also learned about an existing program within HPD called the Volunteer Disabled Parking Enforcement Program, which at that time had 24 volunteers and was led ably by Sgt. Bart Canada. This program got started in 1998 and allowed volunteers to assist the HPD by issuing citations for disabled parking violations and misused handicap parking decals. When I presented an honorary certificate to these volunteers on behalf of the City Council in December 2003, it was estimated that they were issuing roughly 3,300 citations each year and saving HPD roughly $340,000 in operational costs!
With the support of HPD and members of the community, my bill passed the City Council unanimously on Dec. 3, 2003 and was signed into law by the mayor that same month. I also worked with my colleagues on the City Council to secure $485,000 in funding to hire four additional police officers to implement the program.
Well, it took a little while to get things going, but I was happy to learn recently that with little fanfare HPD launched the Volunteer Special Enforcement Officers Program (VSEOP) in March. The program uses the existing Disabled Parking volunteers and gives them the added ability to issue citations for expired registrations, safety checks, parking out of stalls and also allows them to assist with abandoned vehicle enforcement.
Sgt. Emilio Laganse runs the program with three other HPD officers. In order to qualify, volunteers must be a U.S. citizen, at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, have a valid driver's license, pass a background check, and complete 40-50 hours of training. HPD plans to have its first training class in September.
At the Waipahu Neighborhood Board meeting in July, Sgt. Laganse gave a short presentation about VSEOP. George Yakowenko, the board's vice chairman, also spoke about his experiences as a volunteer in the Disabled Parking program and said VSEOP will allow them to do even more to help HPD control the parking and abandoned vehicle problems in our neighborhoods.
You might be surprised to learn that about 2,000 police and sheriff's departments across the country currently have about 75,000 men and women serving in volunteer policing programs. There's also an organization called the National Association Citizens on Patrol (http://www.nacop.org) which is dedicated to strengthening these programs.
If you're interested in being a part of this new and exciting program, please contact Sgt. Laganse at 529-3136.
I want to thank Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Police Chief Boisse Correa for having the vision and leadership to move this important initiative forward. I'm hopeful that the police department and the citizens of Oahu will make VSEOP an outstanding success.
Mike Gabbard represents District 19 (Kalaeloa-Makakilo) in the state Senate.