A proposed program could give Buda Police more eyes and ears on the streets.
On Feb. 6, Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd introduced the department’s Citizen on Patrol (COP) program, which could go before the city council for approval later this year.
“The COPs are similar to a neighborhood watch, but more intensive,” Kidd said.
Kidd proposed a 12-week Citizens Police Academy in order to teach interested citizens what it takes to be in law enforcement before they undergo the responsibility of volunteering for the city.
Kidd said the intended use of COP volunteers would be to “act as eyes and ears and nothing more than that.” Volunteers under the COP program will not be armed in any way.
The citizens police academy would be a good vetting process for interested citizens, Kidd said. Under the city’s proposed COP program, residents would be given more training before they are activated in the community.
“Neither COPs nor neighborhood watch groups are vigilantes, they don’t take enforcement action and are simply there to observe and report,” Kidd said.
Council members seemed to be in favor of the idea, but wanted to make sure to proceed with caution when creating a possible COP program.
“I think we could stand a good citizens patrol in Buda, but I would like to proceed carefully and deliberately in doing so,” Kidd said.
Buda Mayor George Haehn said he was eager to see how Kidd would structure the lesson plans for citizens.
“I like the idea of a 12-week citizens police academy and I would like to see us move forward with this,” Haehn said.
Council member Evan Ture said he was interested in the proposed program as well, but cautioned Kidd to be lean with resources while researching the process of establishment.
In a later interview Kidd said creating a COP program was only a single step in the whole process. Creating a citizens police academy was important to do first, he said, adding that it would take a lot to make that happen.
Kidd said not having enough police officers was an issue for every police department. However, introducing the COP program was meant to gauge city leaders’ response to the idea to see if this is something they should do.
“This is not something you just throw together and roll out. I want to make sure we lay a good foundation and do it right,” Kidd said.