Police laud volunteers, ask more people to step up and help

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comJuly 18, 2013 

The Los Banos Police Department is lauding the work of last year's volunteers, while asking more members of the public to get involved.

"Volunteers are the unsung heroes of our community and they continue to support the idea that Los Banos is a community worth investing in," Police Chief Gary Brizzee said.

In 2012, there were 355 people who donated more than 9,000 combined hours to the Police Department through the Police Activities League (PAL), Los Banos Volunteers for Animals and Volunteers Interacting to Advance Law Enforcement (VITAL).

"From mentoring youth through PAL sports, Kops for Kids or Sober grad; fostering or adopting animals to removing abandoned vehicles from our roadways, or patrolling our parking lots during the holidays to filing paperwork, our volunteers are amazing," Brizzee said.

"I am extremely grateful for their efforts."

In the past 24 years, many volunteers have passed through the PAL program. Volunteers have participated as coaches, record keepers, score keepers, and board members as well as taking on other duties.

In 2012, Jr. Giants, girls softball, flag football, Sober-Grad and Kops for Kids had more than 1,700 youth involved. Three hundred seventeen volunteers devoted more than 4,700 hours to PAL-run programs.

"I have watched the program grow," said PAL volunteer Marci Fahey. "Both of my girls played PAL softball years ago and I helped coach.

"I enjoyed the group I was working with and believed in the program. My girls are too old for PAL but I am still volunteering my time. It is definitely something I enjoy."

PAL Director Noah Jones said he is proud of the ballfield makeover Junior Giants won this year.

"Los Banos battled for online votes against cities like Fresno, Modesto, Fremont, Hayward, etc. We won by a clear margin. You can't help but appreciate what a contest like this means to our residents," Jones said. "It's certainly a sign that people care about Los Banos and are willing to volunteer their time to such a great effort.

"Without those dedicated voters, we would have never won."

The contest netted a $20,000 makeover for the Seventh Street BallFields that included replacing the infields, repainting buildings and hanging a league banner.

VITAL assists the police with some of the more mundane, but important, aspects of law enforcement, police said. In 2012, members of the volunteer group patrolled neighborhoods for abandoned vehicles and removed more than 200 of them, escorted parades, assisted with DUI checkpoints and fingerprinted children at public events.

The 15 members of Volunteers for Animals spent more than 2,400 hours caring for more than 2,237 animals in 2012. They help to clean, feed and socialize shelter animals. More than 70 percent of the animals that came to the shelter last year were adopted, fostered or returned to their owners.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Noah Jones at (209) 827-6033 or Crime Analyst Megan Soares or Gary Brizzee at (209) 827-7070.

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