A husband and wife team from Coarsegold were awarded top COP (Citizen On Patrol) of the Year, Saturday night in the Madera Ranchos – an event that at times was standing room only.
Volunteers with the Madera County Sheriff’s Citizens On Patrol held a banquet at the Senior Center located off Fernwood Drive, where Suzetta and John Pelowski received awards for COP of the Year, recognizing them for their tireless service to their unit, the Sheriff’s Office and citizens of Madera County.
Denny Litten, of Oakhurst, was also honored as the unit’s top Rookie COP of the Year. He was selected for his outstanding volunteer work, as well as clocking 250 hours barley into his first year as a COP.
*** It should be noted that COP’s are only required to patrol 8 hours a month.
Every year, Citizen On Patrol Volunteers host a catered banquet for their unit as well as for those who continue to contribute greatly to their volunteer organization.
For the 35 volunteers, their family, friends, and invited guests, Saturday night’s awards dinner was bitter sweet. Sheriff John Anderson, who created of a fully staffed volunteer unit compete with a fleet of cars, uniforms and radios, has been their top for the past 14 years. For them, it will be hard to say good-bye when he retires next year.
When Sheriff Anderson first took Office, there were two volunteers driving through neighborhoods in their personal cars.
He says he was not familiar with volunteer citizens who patrol, but liked the concept. So he made it his mission to learn about the program and what he discovered was the potential for an invaluable public service that would be performed by the citizens themselves.
By 2000, this band of two grew into nearly 40 volunteers all regarded as the Sheriff’s most valuable second set of eyes and ears. In that time the Sheriff’s Citizen On Patrol Unit has received numerous state and national honors for their work, ingenuity and dedication.
After 14 years of steadfast support, Saturday night was Sheriff Anderson’s last appreciation dinner.
But his work with the COP program is far from over. Next week, he is set to swear-in six more volunteers.
**Date: Tuesday April 22, 2014
Time: 6 p.m.
Place: Yosemite Lakes Clubhouse
Sheriff Anderson says everything these men and women do, they do voluntarily. And they perform with incredible enthusiasm and pride. “Our COP volunteers are some of the proudest and most dedicated public servants I have ever worked with,” he said.
There’s an old saying, if you can’t be on time be early. He shared with the crowd a perfect example. “Not too long ago, our COPs were expected to be in uniform and ready for an 11 AM assignment. They showed up at 9 AM. That’s dedication.”
The basic tenant of volunteers who join the community service program is to provide deputies as well as Madera County residents and business owners a much needed and highly effective second set of eyes and ears.
COPs play a vital role in traffic control, Search & Rescue missions and disasters. While their role is to assist law enforcement, many have been trained to work the front lines as first responders. The job requires extensive training and certification – all which is funded by the volunteers themselves.
Among the countless duties volunteers with Citizens on Patrol perform, they also conduct house checks for homeowners away on Holiday and welfare checks for the department’s Elder Orphan Program clients.
In addition to the Top COP and Top Rookie Cop awards, a number of veteran volunteers, who areas still dedicated today as they were when they first signed on, were also recognized for the hours they put in to the program this past year:
Bronze – 100 - 249 hours clocked
Silver – 250 - 499 hours clocked
Gold – 500 + hours clocked
Total hours clocked:
Suzetta Pelowski, of Coarsegold, 859
John Pelowski, of Coarsegold, 723
Shane Morton, of Coarsegold, 691
Bill Briggs, of Oakhurst, 551
Joliene Mason, of Valley, 550
Dave Myers, of North Fork, 507
Greg Wheeler, of Coarsegold, 503
Tom Landess, of Coarsegold, 476
Jean Newman, of Oakhurst, 453
Susan Meyers, of North Fork, 402
Henry Lara, of W. Valley, 311
Mary Fesler, of Coarsegold, 299
Larry Mullin, of Valley, 260
Patricia Perry, of W. Valley, 271
Bart Nagel, of Oakhurst, 260
Denny Litton, of Oakhurst, 250
Randy Taylor, of Oakhurst, 245
Howard McFarland, of Valley, 227
Sandy Chaille, of North Fork, 214
Barbara Colliander, of North Fork, 204
Duayne Bowman, of Coarsegold, 201
Joseph Perry, of W. Valley, 168
Vonda Mullin, of W. Valley, 130
Richard Rhoan, of Oakhurst, 114
John McCann, of Valley, 109
A special lifetime achievement medal was awarded to George Johnson (Oakhurst), for clocking more than 4,000 hours during his years of service.
-Madera County Sheriff's Office