A new city initiative is taking shape to increase Elyria’s auxiliary police force by 24 volunteers and garner community sponsorship to offset the $43,920 needed to outfit the new recruits. Auxiliary police officers are the badge-wearing civilians who direct traffic at accident scenes, walk through festival crowds in hopes of keeping the peace and serve as the eyes and ears of the Police Department.
In Elyria, there are 16 such officers, but a new initiative the city is launching called “Recruit the Blue” aims to increase that number to 40.
While the Police Department has 82 officers, Police Chief Duane Whitely has long championed for more officers on the street. Brinda said “Recruit the Blue” campaign will not allow for sworn officers to be hired.“This does nothing to what the size of the department is now and what it will be in the future,” Brinda said. “This is just extra eyes and ears for the Police Department, regardless of the number of officers.”
The biggest obstacle to increasing the volunteer force is money. The costs is approximately $1,800 to purchase auxiliary officer uniforms and equipment, which is not provided by the Police Department. Volunteers are asked to pay for that themselves in addition to a monthly time commitment.
“What we have found in talking with both existing auxiliary officers and some citizens who aspire to join their ranks is that the cost they must personally bear to outfit and equip themselves is a significant financial barrier that many cannot afford to absorb themselves,” she said. “That’s why we are taking the unusual step in reaching out to the community to help us bear the cost in what we think will be a win-win situation for everyone.”
The goal is to raise $43,920 in sponsorships to support 24 additional auxiliary police officers. The money will go toward the purchase of officer shirts ($40), pants ($50), body protection vests ($800), duty belts ($200), expandable batons ($75), handcuffs ($40), pepper spray canisters ($20), radio/case/batteries ($530) and flashlights ($75).
Plans are in the works to hold a Blue Jeans Crime Stopper Ball in hopes of raising a portion of the $43,920 total, but Brinda said sponsorships are still needed. Sponsorships range from $25 to $1,800.