Coronado Senior Volunteer Patrol ...

Coronado Senior Volunteer Patrol members participate in local beach patrol training. If you are interested in finding out more about the SVP or possibly joining the program, please contact John Meyers or 619-319-0861.

There is a part of the Coronado Police Department that is a behind the scenes segment to most Coronado residents and tourists. This hidden gem is called the Senior Volunteer Program (SVP).

John Meyers joined the program in 2007 and became the Administrator of the SVP in 2010. A chemist by trade for 30 years, sitting on the board of a large chemical company, and ensconced in quality control for most of his working life, Myers might seem like an outsider to a program for seniors in a police department.

“When I discovered this program I quickly came to realize how organized the police department is and how procedure centric they are,” said Myers. “This fit right in with my personality and it’s what attracted me to the program.”

The SVP began here in Coronado in 1995 starting with 18 volunteers. The program has grown to a current total of 25. The Coronado Police Department takes pride in the SVP providing a senior team that is part of this community and helps to enhance the procedures and day-to-day activities of the police department. However, this is not just any program where you can walk in, register and instantly become part of the team.

“You do have to check off a lot of the basic requirements. You have to be at least 50 years of age, have a valid drivers license, pass a background check, attend meetings, and be physically able to perform on patrol,” said Meyers. “But the most important part of the skill set is completing the training academy.”

The SVP academy requires participants to complete a five-day course where you receive an overview of your duties, participate in a ride along with officers, and be able to retain radio codes, administrative procedures and perform on-task elements that officers use each day in their jobs. At the completion of the academy, there is a graduation ceremony where the volunteers receive a badge and are pinned by a family member or friend.

The SVP was forced to close in March of 2020 due to COVID and recently put the force back together in July 2021.

“The SVP has logged over 160,000 volunteer hours since 2001 saving the police department almost $3 million,” said Meyers. “Not being able to be there to help our police department during COVID was a hard time. I have an enormous amount of respect for the department and learned so much about what they do when I became involved in the SVP. This is a great program that allows seniors to stay busy, become part of a community, and to log volunteer hours, which I feel is a positive thing for society as a whole”.

The SVP is responsible for a multitude of responsibilities within the Coronado community. They perform house checks; help patrol streets, alleyways, beaches; assist with traffic control and parking violations; radar speed monitoring; and help with special events like the 4th of July, parades and marathons.

“The average age of our volunteers is 70 with the oldest being 90 years of age,” said Meyers. “Several members have been with the program over 20 years and most only leave if they have a health issue or move away from the area. They are a fully committed group and we should be thankful to have them.”

Meyers is not only proud of his team but works tirelessly to keep the SVP operating in the 21st century with procedures and technology that help the volunteers. “We have been able to add iPads to our everyday patrols that enable us to improve procedures, capture important data and streamline the way we do things for the police department,” said Meyers. “I am always impressed with the way our volunteers have embraced this new way of working. The iPads enable them to log what happens on patrol and also take the pressure off of having to know each and every alpha code and regulation through their shift. They now have a tool where they can look something up and keep all the information organized for the department. These seniors are tackling a tool that might make some uncomfortable and they just run with it.

“The mental stimulation as you get older is a great thing as well, and I can’t say enough about how this team adapts and is there for this community.”

Meyers keeps busy managing the SVP force, but is also responsible for overseeing five board members, other SVP groups in the San Diego area, as well as procedure changes, data collection, and keeping the staff up to date on anything that is new within the police department. “Things change in the Coronado PD all the time and the SVP has to be apprised of those changes and apply them to their work,” said Meyers.

There are also important things that the SVP handles that residents and visitors can relate to very personally. The SVP has logged in over 10,000 house checks in the last 10 years. Anyone can request that their home is on a route just by completing a form and requesting a 30-day maximum check of your home when you are away.

“I remember during one house checked we smelled gas,” said Meyers. “We immediately called the fire department and it turned out there was a gas break inside the home. Without our SVP patrol this could have turned into something much more tragic. We are extra eyes and ears for the police and fire department. It is nice to know that we may be able to help people before something elevates”.

In other areas where the SVP makes a difference, Meyers continued, “We often have shop owners thank us for making sure people follow the rules of no bikes on the sidewalks, or residents concerned about leash laws and dogs in some of the parks. We try and make everyone aware of the regulations of the city and keep the community happy.”

“If we can relieve our officers from less important duties like traffic control or parking violations, then they can concentrate on more important police skills that are better used elsewhere,” said Myers. “The team takes pride in what they do and the community seems to give it right back.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the SVP or possibly joining the program, please contact John Meyers or 619-319-0861.

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