WEBER COUNTY, Utah — Since late 2019, the Volunteers in Patrol Service (VIPS) program has worked to ensure public safety in cities across Weber County.
This includes West Haven, which has grown nearly 48% in population since the 2010 census and does not have a city police department.
“They’ve really taken a pro-active approach to keeping their city safe and that’s what we want,” said Weber County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Cortney Ryan, who oversees law enforcement in West Haven. “In West Haven, we have a lot of vehicle burglaries, thefts and a lot of property crime.”
Community members have stepped up to work shifts, mostly at night, to help patrol the city. Their duties include patrolling city streets, parks, construction areas, canvassing neighborhoods with open garages; ultimately having a presence in hopes of deterring crime.
“Crime prevention and safety, public safety in cities and that it’s not just a law enforcement task, it’s a community task,” said Lt. Ryan, who notes VIPS programs also have been created in eight contract cities within Weber County. “They (West Haven) have the highest number of volunteers that we see with the VIPS program.”
West Haven City Council Member Rob Vanderwood is one of the cities VIPS volunteers.
“A lot of people think we just get in cars and drive around that’s not the case at all,” said Vanderwood. “There’s a lot of training involved from first aid to AEDs and so forth.”
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office provides training to volunteers on aspects of the position. VIPS volunteers are unarmed and don’t intervene in suspicious situations, however, they’re quick to inform deputies via radio traffic.
“This is just to help provide some eyes and ears on the street,” said Vanderwood, who is one of 14 volunteers in West Haven, along with this wife. “Both my wife and I, we call it a date night and we enjoy the time we spend together; we were trained together.” More community members have signed up to start training to join VIPS including West Haven Mayor Sharon Bolos.
While West Haven continues to grow and the conversation between city leaders and residents annually discusses a permanent police department, the volunteers are satisfied with their Weber County Sheriff’s Office partnership.
To learn more information about the VIPS program and how you can get involved: CLICK HERE