With Sgt. Gustavo Flores taking the lead and reserve officer Rod Small assisting, the Escalon Police Department is getting ready to roll out a new, updated citizen volunteer program.
The city did have an active citizen’s patrol several years ago but it dwindled down to the point of non-existence, as the department went through a series of interim police chiefs. Now, with Chief Mike Borges just marking his first year and having his contract renewed for another, the volunteer program is one of those items on his ‘to do’ list.
He outlined the plan for Escalon City Council members at the Aug. 17 meeting, noting that the first order of business was to assign a department member to spearhead the effort.
Borges said Sgt. Flores has stepped up to take on the leadership role and is working with Small and a handful of local residents to update the manuals and set down some guidelines for the volunteer program before they go out to recruit.
“We’ve had some interest,” Borges said of citizens wanting to serve as police volunteers. They would be trained to help out with events such as Park Fete, parades, do vacation checks, fingerprinting and the like.
“It will help the police department and the community,” Borges said of having the volunteer corps in place.
He also noted that longtime reserve officer Richard Tatum – who has been with the department for 38 years, will be retiring as an active reserve officer as of Sept. 1 but has expressed interest in staying involved.
“September of 1977 he started,” Borges said of Tatum, saluting his long service to the city. “He would like to become part of the volunteer program and keep in touch with the community that way.”
Council members said they were enthusiastic about the volunteer program getting started again and also offered thanks and recognition for Tatum’s 38 years in uniform.
Councilman Jeff Laugero went a step further, singling out the efforts of Borges during his first year on the job as chief.
“I have not heard a single complaint, you have taken ownership of that department,” Laugero told Borges. “The outreach to the community has been first rate.
“We have even received compliments on the officers and how they’re doing their jobs. You don’t just occupy the position, you’re very active ... that’s the kind of leadership we need over there.”
Borges also has worked to maintain a list of ‘go to’ candidates for officer positions, keeping tabs on academy graduations and recruiting for Escalon positions. One member of the Escalon Explorers Unit that will be aging out, he told the council, is interested in attending a police academy and the department is looking to help finance part of his education, with the Explorer indicating he wants to return to Escalon once he completes his training. Borges also said the department’s Facebook has been well received, and is a good tool for keeping the community informed.
Councilman Robert Swift said the recent National Night Out event was a good indicator of how well the police, along with fire and ambulance personnel, are received in the community.
“A big kudo to you and Sara (NNO organizer Sara Cardoso) for National Night Out,” Swift said. “What I enjoyed most was seeing how eager the kids were to take a look at the fire trucks, see the police cars, interact … the level of enthusiasm is out there.”