Another local convert in the Citizens Patrol Movement
Just heard an update on this tonight - They're out patrolling!

Grapevine Mills mall will be one of the focuses of the new Citizen Patrol. The program gets trained volunteers to help watch out for crime.Dave Perry can't wait to suit up and head out on patrol in his Crown Victoria with flashing lights on top.

He's not a police officer, but a member of Citizen Patrol -- the Grapevine Police Department's new program to increase visibility using civilian volunteers.

The first two cars -- recycled police cruisers -- are being fitted, and the patrol is to debut next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

"I've done a few ride-outs," said Perry, 63, of Grapevine. "Police work is like sailing: there are hours and hours of boredom broken up by moments of sheer terror. I've got the easy part, though. If we see something, we just radio it in."

Citizen Patrol is an extension of the department's Volunteers in Police Service, which started this year, said Sgt. Todd Dearing, who oversees the volunteers. Volunteers already staff an information booth at the station, assist at public events and help maintain the fleet of patrol cars.

"The Citizen Patrol will be our eyes and ears more than anything," Dearing said. "We think they'll help out a lot with some minor things that will free our officers up to respond to calls."

The cars will look similar to police cars, except the decals will be different and the light bar will be yellow instead of blue and red. The volunteers will eventually have uniforms with white shirts -- Grapevine officers have navy blue uniforms -- and no badge. They won't carry weapons or have arrest powers, Dearing said.

"They will be clearly distinguishable from police officers," Dearing said.

There are four tiers in the VIPS program.

The first is for graduates of the city's Citizens Police Academy.

The second is becoming a VIP, which requires a background check and committing to 16 hours of service a month. Volunteers are allowed to do administrative tasks around the station.

The third is Citizen Patrol, which requires formal training.

The highest tier will be a group of reserve officers who will be licensed peace officers and able to carry guns, but aren't paid. That program will start next year, Dearing said.

The Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association has 75 members, of which 28 are VIPS.

CPA President Joy Mayo estimated that most of the 28 would be interested in becoming part of Citizen Patrol.

"We've gotten to know the officers so much better and do more activities," Mayo said. "We're going to have more and more opportunities to help more, and that's great."

The holiday patrol will focus on Grapevine Mills mall and "restaurant row" near Texas 114 and Texas 121.

Last year CPA volunteers manned the observation towers at the mall and, along with extra police patrols, contributed to something of a feat.

"We had zero vehicle burglaries reported at the mall last year," police spokesman Sgt. Bob Murphy said. "There's about 10,000 spaces out there and who knows how many shoppers. We were happy about that."

In the know

For information on Volunteers in Police Service in Grapevine, call Sgt. Todd Dearing at 817-410-3264.