Christine Lee, Grand Prairie Reporter
The Grand Prairie Police Department is revamping a program that is aimed at keeping its citizens safe.
The Grand Prairie Police Department's Citizens on Patrol program started in the 1980s and now volunteer group is getting a makeover.
Volunteers will be fully-dressed in uniforms and drive refurbished patrol units that are clearly marked Citizens on Patrol.
Grand Prairie's Citizens on Patrol has more than 20 volunteers who serve as additional eyes and ears for the police department.
"They give us places that need to be patrolled, and we go out and hit those spots," said Citizens on Patrol volunteer Gary Brooks.
Brooks spent 26 years as a police officer in the Grand Prairie Police Department. His partner, Bob Addison, is a reserve officer and a substitute teacher. He said he spends up to 60 hours a week as a Citizen on Patrol.
"We see minor accidents, major accidents, just about anything that we see that we know that a PD officer has to come, we're able to see it, report it, and have somebody show up," Addison said.
They said as volunteers, they have more time to roam through neighborhoods, looking for suspicious activities.
"The officers are call-driven. They have to clear the call and go to the next one. We're not. We can sit and watch," said Brooks.
The two men also inspect vehicles in parking lots, checking to see if they are potential burglary targets.
"We find GPS units still hanging on windshields, ladies' purses, and everything inside the car," said Brooks.
Residents taking notice of the added presence often stop to thank the volunteers for their efforts.
"Because they are going through neighborhoods, and through the parking lots, and in the shopping centers, where I go, I really do appreciate them being there," said Grand Prairie resident Carolyn Williamson.
Volunteers must pass a background check and go through a thorough training process, which consists of a 13-class Citizen Police Academy. They must also volunteer at least 16 hours a month.