Sgt. Andy Hill has served the Largo Police Department for 24 years. He is now the supervisor of the Volunteer in Policing (V.I.P) program and provides training for new volunteers at the academy.
“Largo did it for service and for many years, starting in 1997: not just a reaction to a budget crisis,” Hill said.
Hill said when the program had 51 volunteers working on the force they volunteered a total of 13,470 hours in support of the officers. The program now has 58 volunteers.
“The volunteers are extremely helpful. They have also been tremendous ambassadors for the police force,” Hill said.
They help with services like directing traffic at major accident scenes, handling car impounds and conducting security checks on homes when citizens are away on vacation. This helps free up time for police officers to investigate bigger crimes, Hill said.
Here's what he said about the men and women in the VIP program:
Q: How do these volunteers stand out?
A: They are very highly motivated people to begin with. They come from all walks of life like cabinetmakers, retired doctors and nurses. Prior to volunteering, they spend over six weeks getting training in the academy. Our volunteers are real go-getters. They go back in the community and to their different committee meetings with a greater appreciation of what our police force is doing everyday.
Clarification: In a previous version of this article it was not stated that Sgt. Andy Hill is a full-time paid officer with the Largo Police Department's Volunteer in Policing program.