Members of the Volunteers in Police Service program were honored for their selfless service Thursday at Buckhannon City Council. Pictured, from left, are VIPS coordinator Steve Wykoff, assistant VIPS coordinator Anita Coleman, Eleanor Burr, police chief Matt Gregory, Amy Heimberger Lopez, Linda Coleman, Scott Coleman, Thomas Davis, Jewel Fisher and Dave Rowan.

Gregory: VIPS volunteers indispensable to Buckhannon Police Department’s operations

BUCKHANNON – Volunteers in Police Service is a blossoming program whose members logged nearly 1,350 volunteer hours in 2018, potentially saving the City of Buckhannon $27,000 in labor, city police chief Matt Gregory told Buckhannon City Council Thursday.

Gregory recognized VIPS members prior to his regular report, saying the program had grown from eight to 12 active members throughout the course of the year.

VIPS members work on a purely volunteer basis and assist the BPD with traffic control during parades and special events; administrative tasks around the office; business security checks; and surveillance during ride-alongs with career police officers.

VIPS members logged 1,340 volunteer hours during 2018 and may have saved the city $27,000 “if you do the math,” Gregory told council.

“What you see here tonight is a fine example of community policing,” Gregor said. “These fine folks are part of our VIPS program (Volunteers in Police Service) that is four years-strong this year. We’ll be celebrating our five-year anniversary next summer.

“I truly cannot say enough about these fine folks,” he added. “They are a godsend to the department, to the city, to the community to the point to where I really don’t know how, in a lot of instances, how we functioned without volunteers prior to the inception of the program. They’re that integral to our operations.”

VIPS members perform non-law enforcement duties such as traffic control during festivals and 5Ks and crowd control at special events.

“If you can think of a special event that occurred in our community, 9.9 times out of 10, we probably had VIPS representation there, at least two or three,” Gregory said, noting that in many instances, such as the Dec. 7 Christmas parade, VIPS members outnumbered career police officers.

The expansion of the program represents the strengthening of bonds between the city’s police department and city residents, the police chief said.

“Not only do they represent us very well at youth events, community events such as National Night Out, not only do they assist us with administrative duties around the office, but the connection we’re able to make on a personal basis with each and every member of the community that’s become part of the VIPS program as well as each and every officer … is a testament to the relationship the police department has with the community and the engagement that we have with these fine folks.”

Gregory invited anyone interested in serving as a VIPS member to apply, saying his door is always open.

In order to highlight the volunteers’ commitment to public safety, Gregory honored all members with certificates of recognition and six members with bronze-level and silver-level Presidential Volunteer Service Awards.

“They do not receive a penny for what they do,” Gregory emphasized. “They give so much and so freely of their time.”

Silver PVSA recipients – who logged between 250 and 500 service hours in 2018 – are VIPs coordinator Steve Wykoff (269.25 hours), David Rowan (315.5 hours) and Anita Coleman (340 hours).

Volunteers in Police Service coordinator and member Steve Wykoff was honored with the silver-level Presidential Volunteer Service Award Thursday.

In addition, bronze-level award winners – or VIPS who put in 100-249 volunteer service hours during the year – are Jamie Hasbrouck with 119 hours, Scott Coleman with 100.25 hours and Linda Coleman with 101 hours.

In other law enforcement-related news, Gregory congratulated the city’s newest police officers, Angel McCauley and Sam Kraemer, who graduated Friday, Dec. 14, from the West Virginia State Police Academy and began their stint as probationary officers with the city Monday, Dec. 17.

Police chief Matt Gregory, center, congratulates new Buckhannon city police officers Angel McCauley and Sam Kraemer on their graduation from the West Virginia State Police Academy Friday, Dec. 14.

“I’m very proud of each of their accomplishments, personally, and very glad to have them back with the city,” Gregory said.

The officers will now undergo the BPD’s field training program, during which McCauley will work with Cpl. Marshall O’Connor and Kraemer will work with Cpl. D.K. Hissam.

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