April 29, 2024 / News

National Volunteer Month Feature #2

To celebrate National Volunteer Month, the Police Foundation is highlighting volunteer programs that support the San Diego Police Department. We will be sharing stories from volunteers who are making a positive difference in our community. SDPD offers six volunteer programs which include the Cadet Program, Crisis Intervention, the Reserves, STAR/PAL, RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol), and VIP (Volunteers in Policing).

RSVP Volunteer Cresencio Torres

My first encounter with the San Diego Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol happened when I was doing a walkabout in my community one morning. A white Ford Crown Victoria with black stenciled San Diego Police Department markings slowed down and stopped beside me. The driver’s window slowly rolled down, and a smiling face greeted me. It was my neighbor, Jacqueline, who lived just a few streets away. I was surprised because she was driving with her partner, dressed in a blue uniform with a silver RSVP badge on her chest pocket. She laughed and asked me if I was ready to join RSVP.

Not knowing anything about RSVP, I was intrigued. We discussed RSVP later that week, and she piqued my interest. Jacqueline invited me to attend an interview at the Western Division station. The interview was only 30 minutes long, and then I was asked to join. Subsequently, I participated in the one-week RSVP Academy and started volunteering three days per month. The other volunteers, men and women of various ages, ethnic groups, and backgrounds, accepted me openly, and I have developed strong friendships with them over time.

What I enjoy most about being an RSVP volunteer is working with a group of men and women with like-minded values, attitudes, and beliefs about what it means to assist the San Diego Police Department. Our administrative work, including welfare checks, vacation house checks, homeland security checks, and managing the YANA (You Are Not Alone) program for seniors, frees up sworn officers to focus specifically on patrol duties to serve and protect the community.

Volunteering with RSVP gives me a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment. It challenges me to step out of my comfort zone to make a difference, and it is a good fit for me as I like to serve others.

If you want a challenging volunteer experience, join the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol. It will make a positive difference in your life and the lives of the people you serve. 

RSVP Volunteer Susan Townsend

How did you become involved with the RSVP program?
At Clairemont Woman’s Club, we had a very interesting and informative program on the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) given by RSVP officers from the Northern Division. When they discussed the San Diego Police Department’s “You Are Not Alone” (YANA) program, I got very enthusiastic because, for the first time in my life, I can participate in a program where I can help vulnerable people who are housebound. Also, in the early nineties, my husband and I had requested RSVP to do a vacation check on our home while we were on vacation out of state. While we were gone, there was a fire on the fence between my neighbor’s and our properties. A few days after our return from vacation, when we received the Log Sheet completed by RSVP, we read about the fire. Had it not been for RSVP, we would have never known this happened.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for RSVP?
We call the folks in the “You Are Not Alone” program the endearing name, “YANAs”. I most enjoy visiting and checking up on the people in the YANA Program. It is rewarding to see a need and be able to act on it. When we arrive at the YANA’s home, if they do not answer the door, we will try to contact them. If they do not respond to our inquiries, and we deem it necessary, then we call dispatch and ask for police officers to do a welfare check to determine if there is an emergency situation. We grow very close to these delightful people and deeply care about them.

What do you wish more people knew about SDPD and/or volunteering for SDPD?
Volunteering for the SDPD is not only fun but a valuable support that enables police officers to concentrate more of their time and energy on fighting crime.  I also like the idea that we are the eyes and ears of the police department and a presence in the community which is a deterrent to crime.  If we see a suspicious situation, we can radio Dispatch, report the incident, and then the police are dispatched to handle it.  Also, our safety is of paramount importance to the SDPD so there is no risk in volunteering. 

Another thing I want people to know about the SDPD is that community involvement is very important to them.  Western Division, out of which I volunteer, holds several community events in which RSVP officers are welcome to participate.  We RSVPs volunteer at the annual “CHRISTMAS WITH COPS”, gift-wrapping parties, and Halloween “Trunk or Treat” events for the children in the area just to mention a few.  Also, at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, the police officers at all levels of SDPD serve the volunteers lunch and put on a nice program to show their appreciation for our service.

Can you share a specific impactful volunteer experience you have had?
Several of us from RSVP volunteered at Western Division’s first Halloween “Trunk or Treat” event which was a blast!  In addition to SDPD, other interagency first responders were invited to participate by decorating their SDPD patrol cars, SWAT van, etc.  Of course, our RSVP patrol car was decorated.  It was personally rewarding and a lot of fun interacting with the public by giving out candies to the children and running the arts and crafts tables.  It also was an educational event where people learned about what all these law enforcement agencies did for their communities.  One highlight was that SDPD’s “ABLE” (Air Borne Law Enforcement) helicopter flew over and wished everyone a great holiday season on their public address system and shined their spotlight or “Night Sun” on those at the event.  It was an opportunity to see the personal and positive sides of law enforcement officers.

Why should community members volunteer to support SDPD?
It is an excellent way to make a difference in your community, encourage civic responsibility, and meet like-minded people who have a heart for the police and wish to support them.  It also provides an opportunity to see what is happening in your community from a different perspective.  In other words, you will broaden your horizons and gain unique experiences.  Not only that, it is a lot of fun and very rewarding!

Interested in joining RSVP? Read this brochure for program qualifications. To learn more, contact Volunteer Services at 619-446-1017 or email RSVP@pd.sandiego.gov.

Crisis Interventionist Harrison Trubitt

Teacher and youth minister by day, Crisis Interventionist by night. Despite working full-time, Harrison Trubitt makes time to serve his community. Introduced to the Crisis Intervention program through his former Boy Scout leader, he realized that his ability to de-escalate situations and provide empathy could be assets to the community. With the program offering a flexible schedule, he can work full-time and volunteer full-time.

Responding to the home of a grieving family can be difficult, and it’s not for everyone. An older gentleman had passed away from natural causes in his home and his family didn’t know what the next steps were, so they called the San Diego Police Department. SDPD forwarded the call to the Crisis Intervention team and Harrison and his colleague were dispatched to the home. They provided resources on funeral services and death certificates, but also served as a knowledgeable and compassionate presence during a traumatic situation.

Despite how serious the work can be, Harrison enjoys being a part of the Crisis Intervention program. He likes spending time with the other volunteers and finds that supporting those in need is extremely satisfying. He hopes that others will answer the call to service.

The Crisis Intervention program needs volunteers to continue to provide on-scene services to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Crisis Interventionists serve as a vital resource to the community and provide relief to the San Diego Police Department, which does not have the resources to respond to every situation. Volunteers are expected to be on-call 20 hours per month, attend a monthly meeting, and serve for one year. If interested, please contact San Diego Police Department Volunteer Services at (619) 446-1017 or crisis@pd.sandiego.gov.
CRISIS Brochure