Mar 11, 2013 6:51 PM by Andy Koen
COLORADO SPRINGS - In the mid-morning hours Monday, Vanessa Jones is driving her patrol car through the Garden of the Gods taking a careful look at all of the vehicles in the parking lot.
"This in an area that we patrol quite frequently," Jones said.
She is one of about 15 Community Service Officers, or CSO's for short, that are now patrolling the streets of Colorado Springs.
"We're the ones in the green squad cars. We're the ones that go to non-emergent calls, no suspect information, to kind of help assist the officers with their workload."
The CSO program began in 2010 and has proved successful enough that CSPD Chief Pete Carey says the department is expanding.
"We have about a dozen CSO's out in the field and we're going to double that number."
These officers don't carry a gun and can't make arrests. However, they are trained to defend themselves, wear bullet proof vests and carry pepper spray. They also investigate some crimes, like vehicle break-ins.
Chief Carey says the CSO's have been a great help to the sworn officers.
"I'm told that the officers think the CSO's are kind of rock stars, they get all the good assignments and they don't get people as mad at them."
In fact, one main reasons for expanding their ranks is to give crime victims someone to talk to face-to-face even for routine calls.
"You can see that the community appreciates us coming out and having that face to face whereas we didn't have that before," Jones said.
The Community Service Officers receive approximately 4 weeks of training in defensive tactics, policy, procedure, criminal statute, and civil liabilities. The next police academy for the new CSO's is expected to begin in mid-May.