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WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 12, 2012, 06:39 PM

Moorhead Police force benefitting from volunteer officers

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - If you've gotten a parking ticket in Moorhead, you know their work - not police, but volunteers. Volunteer cops have passed out more than a million dollars’ worth of parking tickets, saving the city thousands of dollars. A couple dozen volunteers are lightening the load of professional officers, in more ways than one.

If you've gotten a parking ticket in Moorhead, you know their work - not police, but volunteers. Volunteer cops have passed out more than a million dollars’ worth of parking tickets, saving the city thousands of dollars. A couple dozen volunteers are lightening the load of professional officers, in more ways than one.

Lifelong Moorhead resident, 72 year-old Dale Mitchell has been volunteering with the police department for 6 years.

Dale Mitchell – Police Volunteer: “The city has been good to me so I am trying to give them a little bit back.”

Once a week he arrives at the police station, gets his radio, cell phone, hand held computer, and hits the streets. Once on the streets he looks out for people parking illegally.

Dale Mitchell: “There are several different things you can do as a volunteer. You can do office type work, traffic control for parades, issuing parking violations.”

To become a volunteer Mitchell had to go through training and has meetings once a month. He has put in countless hours and doesn't see himself retiring any time soon.

Dale Mitchell: “I've got about 700 to 800 hours volunteer at the present time so I don't have any intentions of quitting yet, but when I do I can just turn my uniform in and my badge and go about my business.”

While the people receiving the tickets may be unhappy with the increased patrols, homeowners around MSUM and Concordia campuses say they are happy knowing there are more eyes and ears keeping their neighborhoods safe and controlled.

Molly Klein - Moorhead: “I am glad that they are out and available and willing to help because it is, Concordia and Moorhead State are becoming larger campuses all of the time with students coming and going so it is nice that they have the volunteers to help them.”

As this volunteer drives up and down Klein's street and many others, you can be sure if you are parked illegally there are more eyes watching you that just those in uniform.

One volunteer patrols for 4 hours each day Monday through Friday.

The volunteer police program started in 1999. Since then it's contributed $2 million worth of man hours and tickets. In 2011 more than 5,600 parking tickets were written, valued at more than $115,000. Over the last year 2,100 volunteer hours contributed more than $43,000.

Leann Wallin – Community Policing Coordinator: “Volunteers are typically putting in about 2,000 hours per year so we correlate that to saving of about $40,000 a year.”

Since 1999 volunteers have donated nearly 45,000 hours.

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