Civilian volunteers honored with awards dinner by Lebanon Police

The Lebanon Police Department recognized its civilian volunteers at an awards dinner Thursday night, April 26.

The civilian volunteer program currently has 11 volunteers ranging from 23-70 years old. In 2016, the total number of civilian volunteer hours, not including the reserve officers, was 3,134 hours saving the city $72,370.59 in wages.

“You are the heartbeat of the agency,” Chief Frank Stevenson told the volunteers,

According to Dala Johnson, the community policing officer and volunteer coordinator, the combined effort of the volunteers accomplishes the work of two full-time positions. The department is a small agency that can’t afford another full-time position, she said.

The volunteers assist at every event the Lebanon Police Department puts on, the main one being National Night Out, with over 3,000 people attending.

Stevenson said the program reflected on Johnson’s leadership.

“Dala volunteers more than anyone in the city.”

The civilian volunteer program began in March of 2009 when Larry Baker, Linda Meredith, Bill Kohler and Jane Kohler went through the senior citizen’s police academy at the Lebanon Police Department. Today, the volunteers, 75 percent of whom come from LPD’s Citizen’s Police Academy, range from 23-70 years of age. There’s not a lot of turnover.

“It takes all kinds,” Johnson said.

Volunteers are required to volunteer for eight hours a month. Johnson ensures that each and every volunteer gets recognized for their work. She believes that it is important that they get recognized for the time they donate. They don’t get paid and she wants to make sure they are recognized.

“I do not ask a volunteer to do anything that I won’t do,” Johnson said.

At the awards dinner, the volunteers received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, based on the number of hours they served, as well as personalized certificates of recognition from Johnson.

Linda Meredith served 440 hours last year, the most of all the volunteers. Meredith works directly with Johnson, mainly with administrative duties.

“Anything I need her to do, she’s right there,” Johnson said.

Meredith said she began volunteering because she wanted something to do after retirement. She wanted to do something different and found that at the Police Department. She said that, with a leader like Johnson, she wishes she could do more.

In addition to administrative work, Meredith regularly helps at the BULB (Bringing Up Learning Behavior) breakfast each month and has become treasurer of the Crime Prevention Association in Oregon.

Larry Baker had the second highest number of hours, at 369. He began doing the disabled parking program, for which he is solely responsible.

Baker began volunteering after his son Alan Baker joined LPD as an officer. Larry Baker said he wanted to become familiar with what went on in the Police Department.

Baker says he continues to volunteer because it gives him something to do. He said he  likes doing the disabled parking because it frees the officers up to deal with other, more urgent matters.

Johnson recognized each volunteer individually, noting their individual strengths on behalf of the department.

“I could not do my job without my volunteers. Because of them, I am able to do my job well.”