DRAPER, Utah — In Draper, a group of dedicated volunteers is helping their police department better protect and serve the community.
It’s called the VIPS program.
VIPS is an acronym for volunteers in police service, and is basically a combination of neighborhood and mobile watch.
Volunteers went through what department officials call a thorough background check and interview process then a training course.
The goal is to make themselves visible, often in their clearly marked vehicles.
They also get out and walk the streets of their neighborhoods, and ride mountain bikes to patrol the many trails and parks in Draper.
Volunteers say it’s a great way to give back.
“I know it’s a great community,” said VIPS member & Draper resident Dean Lowe. “But I know there are things that still occur and we would like to be an extension of the good things that happen here.”
“I wanted to make a difference in the community,” added VIPS member Lori Johnson. “I feel like there needs to be more positive than negative and the experience has been amazing!”
“Law enforcement can’t do it by themselves,” said Sue Campbell, crime prevention specialist for Draper PD. “We have to have the help from the community and when we get neighborhood watch people and volunteers in police service out, it gives us more eyes and ears in the community.”
VIPS are not cops but a combination of trained observers and liaisons with the community.
They can report any crimes or issues but are trained to not physically get involved or put themselves in harm's way.
This group of volunteers just finished their training in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic hit.
That made it difficult to take part in activities like ride-alongs with officers, but now they are back at it.