Citizens on Patrol
The Citizens On Patrol program is a volunteer program that is open to any citizen over 18 years old who successfully completes an application and background check.
Applicants must complete a six-hour block of training on Texas Penal Code sections, patrol procedures, incident response, and basic radio usage. They must then ride with our of our police officers for 8 hours. This gives them a basic understanding of calls for service and situations the officers must handle. When both phases of training are completed, they receive a COPS identification card and are issued a flashlight and a reflective traffic vest. They are then eligible to patrol with a partner. COPS members must also attend an upcoming Citizen Police Academy.
Members patrol in their own vehicles with no emergency equipment on them. They are forbidden to carry weapons of any type even if they are licensed concealed carry permit holders. They are trained to observe and report criminal activity safely, not try to stop it. They have a patrol vehicle, a 1995 Dodge caravan that was donated to the program by Burlington resources. The van is marked with City of Midland decals and has an amber light bar on it. It also has jumper cables, flares, traffic cones, and an air tank to assist stranded motorists.
We use portable radios for communication and have a dedicated channel for use by patrollers. The program started with cellular phones to call incidents in on and evolved to using police radios. This allows direct communication with patrol officers and police dispatch. We have 40 portable radios for use by patrollers.
The patroller's home telephone numbers are programmed into the Communicator program. This allows large numbers of volunteers to be called out quickly, and directly to command posts or other assembly points for deployment.
The COPS program has directed traffic at major events, conducted searches for lost children and disoriented senior citizens, helped to control access to concerts, sporting events, graduation ceremonies, and other large community activities. They have found murder suspects and other wanted suspects, stolen cars, and observed crimes in progress and identified the actors committing them. They have been invaluable in conducting surveillance in high crime areas and observing locations where marked units would be recognized. They also report illegal dumping, municipal code violations, and other non-emergency items requiring attention by other City departments.
The program volunteers are recognized at an annual banquet dinner. They receive hour bars reflecting the number of hours spent working on City programs for that year. They are also recognized at the police department's annual awards banquet. They have received Medals of Service, flashlights, program shirts, and other awards. They have been accepted and utilized by the officers on the street, to help them make Midland a better place to live.