Santa Barbara Police Volunteer Unit Celebrates Milestone

Santa Barbara Police Volunteer Unit Celebrates Milestone title=
Santa Barbara Police Volunteer Unit Celebrates Milestone
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Source: Santa Barbara Police Department

On July 7th, 2017 the Santa Barbara Police Department launched the Volunteers in Policing Program (VIP’s). To date, this uniformed cadre has contributed almost three thousand volunteer hours to the City -- promoting community awareness and bolstering safety.

Each volunteer participated in personally rewarding and meaningful work, including but not limited to: foot patrols; assisting constituents in the police lobby; reviewing hours of surveillance video for investigative leads; visiting the homes of seniors in our community at risk of scams; acting as a Volunteer Hearing Officer for parking citations; conducting traffic control / road closures during recent natural disasters; assisting Animal Control; co-writing grants; attending various community meetings on behalf of the Department; and conducting other various research tailored to their experience, skills, and public service motivation.
These eleven incredible inaugural members have exceeded all expectations and have become the cornerstone of a truly great program with unlimited potential. Civic organizations and sponsors such as the Santa Barbara Police Foundation and the Bunnin Chevrolet Family were instrumental in providing infrastructure and resources to bolster the program’s success.
The success of the program can be attributed to Howie Giles, Director of Volunteer services, a now retired distinguished UCSB professor. Without Howie’s leadership and dedication, the program would certainly not be where it is today.  Giles has spearheaded recruitment, training and scheduling. 
In addition to Giles, outstanding VIP’s include: Corey Anderson, Jose Chicote, Jane Giles, Dick Kemmerer, Steve Kemmerer, Dale Kunkel, Brad Pullen, Jerry Siegel, John Stein, and Bob Van Buren.
The program has been rewarding to the participants and has also promoted a clear alignment to Chief Luhnow’s vision for 21st Century Community Policing. “The expertise that these volunteers bring are essential skills to any organization,” said Luhnow, “…and they convey a level of professionalism that any employer would love to tap into.”
Interested in becoming a VIP? The Department is seeking active and healthy participants who can commit 20 hours per month.  This equal opportunity position requires each successful candidate to pass a comprehensive background investigation prior to appointment.  Contact Howie Giles at

 Here is a brief summary of the first year’s contributions:

  • 100% retention though first year
  • 2755 total hours volunteered (7/7/17 - 6/30/18)
  • 0 citizen complaints
  • 416 skateboarders warned
  • 339 hours helping citizens in our station lobby 
  • 477 public assists 
  • 522 warnings for smoking 


The following is a partial list of activities VIP’s have participated in this year:

  • State Street foot patrol
  • Milpas Street / Beach area foot patrols
  • Lobby public assistance detail
  • Assisting detectives with canvassing areas for video cameras / footage
  • Reviewing hours of surveillance video for investigative leads
  • Assisting Restorative Policing (teaching life skills, assisting on transports)
  • Solstice and July 4th Parades
  • Volunteer Hearing Officer for parking citations and tows
  • Assisting with Open Entry testing for Physical Agility
  • At Risk Adult Program (co-writing grant with Detectives)
  • Home visits of seniors in our community at risk of scams
  • Attending various community meetings on behalf of SBPD
  • Assisting with monitoring in-custody subjects for jail van detail
  • Conducting research on numerous special projects
  • Creating a database for SNAP program
  • Assisting Animal Control
  • Volunteering with DRAGG youth engagement program
  • Conducting traffic control/road closures during natural disasters
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a-1563850447 Jul 11, 2018 08:42 AM
Santa Barbara Police Volunteer Unit Celebrates Milestone

Downtown Phoenix had volunteers (this was about 10 years ago) who had two-way radios of some sort. They were called "Information Volunteers" or something like that. They were there to answer visitors' questions about what streets, what stores, etc. But, the added bonus was anyone who might be causing problems, these volunteers could immediately call police for assistance. That was brilliant, and made me feel much safer. I was told that it wasn't long before shoppers felt safe to go downtown again. Congrats to S.B.P.D. for this volunteer program! Thank you, volunteers!

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