APD volunteers hit the streets

School starts for Southern Oregon University Monday, and the Ashland Police Department will be taking measures to make the crosswalks on Siskiyou Boulevard safer.

The Ashland police will do this by utilizing an important part of their department, the Volunteers in Police Service. Volunteers set up a radar reader board Thursday and Friday last week, and will again on Monday on Siskiyou Boulevard. The intent is to raise awareness for drivers of the speed limit and the increasing amount of pedestrians with the start of Fall term at SOU.

"School crossing doesn't mean too much to people unless they have kids." Volunteer Police Coordinator Olaf Paul said.

Volunteers help law enforcement officers to focus on policing and enforcement by providing supplemental and support services such as citizen patrols of the downtown section, checking the security of vacationing resident's homes, working the radar reader board, helping with the adult crossing guard program, and carrying documents to agencies in Medford.

"Our presence is what is most important," Paul said. "People will see us if they are speeding say 'oh oh.'"

Complaints of high school students and others speeding on Iowa Street have been called in by residents, according to Paul.

"I've seen many near misses on Iowa and Garfield with the kids at Rivergate," Paul said. "we park the patrol car on Iowa, strictly to watch for speed."

There are only 12 volunteers currently, but Paul would like to have about 25 volunteers who could fill all the spaces available for downtown patrol and courier services. Only three volunteers are able to operate the radar reader board. Another is also needed for bicycle bath patrol.

"Right now there is only one volunteer patrolling the bike path," Paul said. "There are a lot of empty spaces for downtown foot patrol."

Downtown foot patrol is scheduled in two-hour blocks and includes wearing a uniform and radio. The main problem downtown, according to Paul, is kids skateboarding on the sidewalks. Volunteers simply ask the skateboarders to skate elsewhere as there is a city ordinance against skateboarding in the downtown area.

Citizens also frequently need to be reminded not to tie their bicycles to trees or lamp posts. Other services include giving directions to tourists and answering questions about the city.

Volunteers also save the police department money by serving as a daily courier service to Medford, delivering documents to the District Attorney and Sheriff's Departments.

Allen Anderson has been volunteering for 6 to 8 months, he moved to Ashland in August 2006.

"I was looking for things to fill in my time," Anderson said. "I saw an article in the Daily Tidings and decided to volunteer."

Anderson, who also volunteers at the Tudor Guild says he likes to be helpful to citizens and is able to do so knowing the town fairly well.

"The Police and the volunteers are all friends, they appreciate what we do, we are like a family." Said Paul.

Anyone interested in Volunteering may contact Olaf Paul at 482-5211 ext. 2963.

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