Frequently Asked Questions
San Pedro Citizen Guard
PROMOTING SAFE STREETS FOR sAN pEDRO, ca
Is Citizens on Patrol a new idea?
No, it is not. Various versions of Citizens on Patrol have been around for almost two decades. The National Association (NACOP.org) was founded in 1999.
What are Citizens On Patrol?
Citizens on Patrol are adult volunteers that work together within a Citizen Patrol organization in their community to assist and support law enforcement in the reduction of crime.
Are Citizens On Patrol members of law enforcement?
No. Generally speaking Citizen Patrol volunteers donate their time to work with a Citizen Patrol organization within a specific city. The Citizen Patrol organization may or may not be directly associated with the cities law enforcement department. Many Citizen Patrol organizations do work with or are unpaid volunteers within a specific law enforcement organization.
To clarify, there are three basic types of COP organizations.
First: a Citizen Patrol organization that is directly started and funded by a law enforcement agency for the specific purpose of assisting that agency with basic functions or functions they may not normally be able to provide such as Traffic Control, Vacation Checks, Regular Welfare Checks on Senior or Disabled Persons, Extra Patrol for areas experiencing Vandalism, Graffiti, Loitering, Car Theft and other non-violent crimes. Generally speaking these volunteers would be considered volunteers of that particular law enforcement agency.
Second: A Citizen Patrol organization that is started by individuals and is funded by the City to support law enforcement. This example can be found in cities who do not have their own police services and contract out for law enforcement services. In this example it is common for the contracted law enforcement agency to provide a Citizen Patrol Coordinator to work with and help coordinate the activities of both groups. In this example the volunteers maybe considered at will non-paid volunteers of the city.
Third: Less common but no less important are Citizen Patrol organizations who for whatever reason choose to form themselves independent from the city and local law enforcement and must support their own efforts through donations and fund raising. These individual organizations for obvious reasons would not be considered any part of a law enforcement agency. (This is the case with SPCG at this time)
What is the difference between a Reserve Police Officer and a Citizens Patrol volunteer.
The only thing in common is that most Reserve Police Officers donate their time although some cities and counties do pay for on duty time. That and the fact they both are working to reduce crime is the only thing in common. Generally speaking, Reserve Police Officers are sworn law enforcement officers who have Peace Office status within their city, county and state. Depending on the states requirements they attend either a Reserve Officer Academy or full time peace officer academy and are held to the same standards as a full time paid law enforcement officer. Citizen Patrol organizations offer individuals with a great opportunity to experience the field of law enforcement before committing to it and also offer law enforcement departments to see potential hires in their work space.
Is there any danger involved in performing SPCG Volunteer Patrol duty?
Very little and certainly no more than you will experience while out shopping and mingling with the public. Remember, the objective of our volunteer patrols is to prevent crime and deter criminal activity just by having an additional security presence in the area. To observe suspicious or criminal activity when it happens and report the activity to the proper authority and provide accurate, detailed information to them. SPCG patrol volunteers will not be confronting or arresting any bad guys. That's for the police to do.
Will the personal information I submit for SPCG Home Check-in or Elder Check-in be shared with anyone?
No, it will not. All requests we take in are held by SPCG with the highest level of confidentially. Only fully vetted SPCG volunteers are able to view open assignments and the information you've shared with us..
Will I be required to wear a uniform while on SPCG Volunteer Patrol duty? If so, who pays for it?
Yes, a uniform SECURITY jacket or shirt is required (see uniform requirements here) and should be worn with black or khaki pants or shorts. In addition, SPCG volunteer patrol guards must wear their SPCG ID at all times while on patrol. We also recommend that you carry a small flashlight, especially at night. Since our budget is limited we expect each volunteer to purchase their own uniform shirts and equipment.
Will I be required to make "Citizen's Arrests" while on SPCG volunteer patrol duty?
No, the objective of our volunteer patrols is to prevent crime and deter criminal activity just by having an additional security presence in the area. And to observe suspicious or criminal activity when it happens and report the activity to the proper authority and provide accurate, detailed information to them. SPCG patrol volunteers will not be confronting or arresting any bad guys. That's for the police to do.
Can I carry a weapon while on duty as a SPCG volunteer?
Absolutely not. Knives, firearms or other deadly weapons are strictly prohibited by SPCG.
Will I receive any pay for my hours worked as a SPCG volunteer?
No, San Pedro Citizen Guard is an all volunteer-based organization made up of dedicated individuals who generously donate their time and energy to help protect the San Pedro community. We will however track the hours you donate should you need a receipt for school or other programs.
Do I have to use my own vehicle for roving vehicle patrols?
Yes, we are a volunteer organization with a small budget. It is unlikely that we will have vehicles at our disposal any time soon unless we receive a vehicle through a donation or grant. We do have SPCG magnetic door placards that can be purchased and used on roving patrol vehicles. We recommend that all vehicles display them while on SPCG patrol duty.
Can I accept gratuities or gifts while volunteering at SPCG?
Sorry no. This is not permissible at SPCG. You can however encourage individuals and businesses to donate on our website www.SanPedroCitizenGuard.org.
Do SPCG Volunteers receive training of any kind?
Yes they do. In addition to the volunteer guidelines published on this website, all volunteers are required to complete an online orientation/training module which takes approximately one hour to complete. Volunteer candidates with current CA Guard Cards may submit a copy to us along with their CA drivers license in lieu of further SPCG vetting.
Do SPCG Volunteers receive background checks or are they vetted in any other way?
Yes. All SPCG volunteers are background checked. We review an applicants property & assets, court case records, arrests & warrants, criminal records, marriage/divorce records, bankruptcies and much more. Vetting of our volunteers cost upwards of $20. per person. Again, we need your donations to help offset this cost.
Is SPCG working with LAPD in any way?
Yes. We notified the LAPD Harbor Division Commander and Councilman Joe Buscaino of Council District 15 in writing of out intent to patrol in San Pedro on December 6, 2015, just 2 days after the inception of SPCG. We had initial discussions with Sgt. Plows and Sgt. Sanchez at LAPD's Harbor Division Community Relations Office in January 2016 about what we would like to see in the way of coordinating SPCG patrols with LAPD patrols along with several other issues. Recently we have been working with Captain Espinosa at the Harbor Division Command Center who has helped SPCG integrate our Tip411 resources with the Harbor Patrol division command staff and has agreed to become our liaison with the LAPD. If you have any questions in this regard please call Lee Dworshak at (310) 833-0432.
Can I use the donations I make to SPCG as a tax write-off?
Yes you can. San Pedro Citizen Guard, Inc. is a registered California Nonprofit Corporation with IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. You can print a copy of our determination letter from the IRS as proof of our tax-exempt status HERE.
In addition, be sure you don't overlook the volunteer work you perform. It may also generate a tax deduction. You can write off many out-of-pocket expenses you incur to do good work, including what you pay for materials, supplies, uniforms, stationery, stamps, parking and tolls.
You can also deduct the cost of driving to and from your volunteer work, at a rate of 14 cents per mile. Miles driven in your vehicle while on roving patrol at SPCG may also be deductible. Check with your CPA for tax advice. If you take public transportation, that bus or rail fare is deductible, too.
But here's the bad news: The value of services you provide as a volunteer don't merit a write-off. For instance, if you're a carpenter and you help a nonprofit group build a home for the poor, you can deduct travel costs and building supplies you buy, but not the value of the work you do. (That's not as hard-hearted as it may seem. If you were paid to do the work, you'd have to report the pay as income, which would drive up your tax bill.)