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Volunteers help keep streets safe
Tom Tubbs routinely puts in more than the minimum four hours a month required of volunteers in the Brunswick Police Department Citizens Observer Program.

"Frankly, it's fun," said Tubbs, who hopes more people will take advantage of the opportunity to join the program through a training class being offered in March.

Much of Tubbs' time in the program that was started in 1998 is spent driving the streets of Brunswick in a specially marked car, looking for anything that may require police attention.

"Those guys are short-handed and work hard," Tubbs said.

For him, the program is a great way to occupy his time during retirement in the city he loves.

"I'm retired and I don't have a whole lot to do all the time," Tubbs said with a chuckle.

But he takes his time on patrol seriously, because he has a direct connection to the police department through a police radio and training on what to do should a situation arise. Like all of the nearly 20 volunteers in the program, Tubbs has been trained in basic radio communication, directing traffic, escorting funeral processions and noticing signs of suspicious activity.

All of the skills put together allow citizen observers to help police officers in big ways, said Capt. Kevin Jones, who heads the department's special services unit.

"Basically, they are an extra set of eyes and ears for us," Jones said. Sometimes, their help is significant, he added.

Jones said volunteers in the program have located an armed robbery suspect, found a stolen motor scooter and the person who stole it and alerted police to burglaries.

In one instance, Jones said an observer's mere presence was enough to diffuse a situation during a traffic stop on U.S. 17. Jones said an officer made the stop and noticed the driver was acting very agitated and suspicious, as if the man might initiate a fight.

But when an observer's car pulled up about 100 feet behind the officer during the stop, as they often do to lend a hand, Jones said the man calmed down, knowing there was someone else there. Jones said the stop resulted in an arrest for drugs and illegal guns.

Cases like that are why Jones is hoping to get a few more applications for the program's March class.

Jones said people who are interested in volunteering with the program should contact the Brunswick Police Department and turn in an application soon.

* Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. Contact him at mhall@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320, ext. 320.

Get involved

Information on volunteering with the Brunswick Police Department Citizen Observer Program is available online at www.brunswickcop.com or by calling the police department at 267-5559. An application must be submitted and approved to join the training class scheduled for March 17.



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