Volunteer Tacy Hunter is recognized for her years of service with the Senior Police Partner program at the Long Beach Police Department. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
The Long Beach Police Department’s (LBPD) Senior Police Partner program celebrated 20 years of assisting one of the city’s more vulnerable subsets of the population during an awards ceremony at the police headquarters Tuesday afternoon.
A popular program among law enforcement, the LBPD was one of the first in the region to train and utilize senior volunteers in a peer support and resource referral capacity, said LBPD Administrator Karen Owens.
This program gives the officers another tool, another resource, so that we can stay connected with the senior,” Owens said. “The officer moves on to handle the next call, but the SPPs can stay behind and assist.”
Senior volunteers go through a training academy before becoming SPPs. Though not as long and physical as a police academy training, they do learn about the available resources, and police culture such as radio codes.
Typically, SPPs accompany detectives on follow-up visits, provide vacation checks, assist in community events, conduct limited safety patrols and assist at DUI checkpoints, officials said.
Since the program’s inception, SPPs have served an average of 5,000 volunteer hours each year, totaling more than 100,000 hours over the past 20 years.
“Over the past 20 years, I have seen firsthand the amazing work that you do,” LBPD Chief Robert Luna told volunteers. “I am so impressed with the level of care and compassion that you show for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
The following retired volunteers were recognized for their service:
- Bill Rouse, 2000-2015
- Stuart Brown, 2003-2014
- Dodie Soto, 2009-2014
During the ceremony, officials also recognized the work of SPP volunteer Tacy Hunter, who has been with the program since its inception.
Hunter, who was born in Wyoming, became a volunteer after retiring as a psychologist, working with the Long Beach Unified School District for about 35 years.
“I’d had a lot of help when I was growing up when I had problems and I just think it's a good idea to give back,” Hunter said.
Additionally, Hunter said the program allowed her to meet amazing people and enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with being with a group.
When asked when she plans to retire from the SPP program, Hunter said she was still not sure when.
“I see all these people retired and I think there must be a message there somewhere but i haven't gotten it yet,” Hunter said. “I think we know when it's time to retire.”
Those interested in volunteering can click here.
All photos by Stephanie Rivera.