How did this program start?
According to the American Pet Products Association, there are over 75 million dog owners in the United States. The National Association of Town Watch—founders of National Night Out—features a program called Dog Walker Watch in order to encourage community members who are already walking their pets to have more awareness and report suspicious activities.
This nationally recognized program inspired the Bellevue Police Department to implement a similar version called Paws on Patrol, which in turn inspired the Vancouver Police Department.
What if I do not have a pet? May I still participate?
No pet? No problem. Anyone who lives in the city limits of Vancouver is welcome to register, watch a training video and be present as you walk or jog in your neighborhood!
What happens after I register to volunteer?
After a volunteer registers, they will be emailed a welcome letter that features situational awareness tips. We distribute Paws on Patrol Pet ID tags at our Annual Paws on Patrol Park Gathering or by mail.
Volunteer hours are automatically logged at one hour per day (7 hours per week). If a volunteer would like to submit more hours, they are welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org any hours to add to their baseline log.
Paws on Patrol volunteers will receive a quarterly newsletter from VPD featuring crime prevention tips and they are encouraged to send photographs from their walks. We will host a yearly park gathering to connect officers with volunteers.
VPD has another volunteer program called Neighbors on Watch. How is this different?
Paws on Patrol enlists community members to be present while doing an activity they would already be doing in their daily life. VPD does not conduct background checks for Paws on Patrol and volunteers do not have access to police facilities or special equipment, like Neighbors on Watch (NOW) volunteers.
Paws on Patrol volunteers will view a training video about calling 311 or 911 if they see suspicious activities while out in their neighborhood. They will also receive periodical safety tips from VPD via email communications.
NOW applicants go through a background and interview process. Successful candidates attend an 8-week academy where they learn about situational awareness, law enforcement history, CPR/First Aid, patrol and radio procedures and more. NOW volunteers receive on-going trainings and may also assist VPD with administrative support projects at police facilities.
NOW volunteers serve as the eyes and ears for VPD by conducting community patrols that help reduce crime while also helping to educate the community about situational awarness.