Cops say farewell to Sheriff Anderson

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson was surprised Dec. 10 by Citizen on Patrol volunteers – one of many programs he created as sheriff, and one of numerous programs he will be best remembered for when he retires in early January.

Forty volunteers - the majority of whom spent their professional careers working in either the private or public sector, which included, law enforcement (both county and federal), fire, medicine, and technology - hosted the farewell lunch at El Cid Mexican Cuisine in Oakhurst, in honor of Anderson.

Some of our volunteers continue to work full time, while still finding time to serve as Madera County’s second set of eyes and ears, patrolling roads in the mountains and on the valley floor.

Citizens On Patrol (COPs) was the first program Anderson established when he first took Office.

The COP concept started in 1999 with an unmarked car and a couple of volunteers. Al Jackson was the original COP volunteer who patrolled the Madera Ranchos in his own private vehicle.

More than a decade later, that one unit grew into an entire fleet of fully marked COP Volunteer patrol cars.

The dedicated members of COPs not only donate their time but their own money to finance training and purchase their uniforms. Every member serves the organization for a certain amount of time each month, patrolling their designated beats in a COP-marked patrol unit. COPs can be seen routinely patrolling Eastern Madera County including Oakhurst, North Fork, Coarsegold, and Bass Lake.

In addition to patrolling neighborhoods throughout the county, COPs also conduct house checks for citizens while they are on vacation. They also handle welfare checks for the newly created Elder Orphans program.

COPs are routinely called upon to assist in search and rescue missions and man traffic control during criminal investigations and during emergencies. Their much-needed presence proved invaluable this past summer during the devastating fires that ravished parts of Eastern Madera County. They are trained as first emergency responders, and some are FEMA certified.

Having garnered a number of state awards since its inception, Anderson says the Madera County COPs program is regarded as one of the most successful volunteer organizations in the nation.

“While our deputies must patrol nearly 3,000 square miles of Madera County, our COPs focus on their specific neighborhoods and streets,” Anderson said. “They are truly our department’s second set of eyes and ears ... and they are always on time … if not early. When you need them by 8 a.m., they show up ready for duty at 7 a.m.. You’ve heard that old saying, If you can’t be on time, be early. That pretty much sums up this volunteer program. Our department depends on them, and we know we can count on them,” said Anderson.

The volunteers wanted to show their gratitude, by recognizing the man they have called their leader for 15 years.

“He created a program that he continued to nurture, treating every volunteer the same way he treats his entire full time staff, like family,” said one of the volunteers. “Sheriff, you are the one leader who has always been there for us.”

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