Police and members of the Kyle Citizens Police Academy are working on a solution to improve safety in Kyle.
The project, called Citizens on Patrol, is designed to reduce the amount of work imposed on officers by using specially trained volunteers.
Kyle City Council Member Alex Villalobos proposed funding for the organization during the Sept. 4 meeting, but was struck down by a split vote. Villalobos asked for $5,000 of the city’s $84.9M budget to go towards Citizens on Patrol.
Three of the six city council members in attendance Sept. 4 felt the project held a potential legal liability; council will discuss the project further at a later date.
“I think it could be a great program,” Council Member Damon Fogley, who opposed the project, said Sept. 4. “I think it works in other cities too that are short staffed on officers, which we are. I just think it’s too early right now to set that money aside. I want to see more on the program.”
Members of the program would be volunteers, but funding would go toward a specially marked, city-owned cruiser for members to use. Members will be alumni of the Citizens Police Academy, who go under additional advanced training to learn how to direct traffic, patrol neighborhoods and report back to police officers.
The Citizens Police Academy currently trains citizens to assist police with volunteer work in times of need, when police are understaffed or have too many calls.
Steve Huskey, president of the Kyle Citizens Police Academy is leading the efforts with police to create the initiative because he wants to see more officers in the field, and fewer directing traffic.
“There are a lot of tedious operations that police have to do that volunteers could step in and do,” Huskey said. “We would be observing and reporting as our only mission. It’s citizens helping citizens.”
Huskey said he hopes that by the end of the year, the organization could help with traffic control, transportation for elderly residents and other tasks to allow police to do more tasking work.
The project may not be complete by December as the additional advanced class must still be implemented, rules and procedures for the organization will have to be approved by city council and fundraising for the special cruiser will have to be raised.
Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said he sees the project beginning in 2019, as it is still in its early stages of planning. Barnett said the department plans to start with four CPA alumni and put them through an additional level of training.
The sole purpose of those volunteers would be to look for any activity that’s suspicious or possibly criminal in nature and then report it to dispatchers.
“They (COP volunteers) are not going to interact with or detain suspects, or anything police officers do.”
Barnett said the project would help officers monitor the Kyle community in residential areas and downtown.