Retirees Help Keep Picayune Safe

The Picayune Police Department wants senior citizens to become PROUD members of the community's crime fighting team.

PROUD stands for "Picayune Retired, Organized, United and Dedicated." The goal of the program is to put more eyes and ears out in the community, to keep Picayune safer.

At 75, Bob Wall, doesn't look like a new recruit, but he's one of the newest members of the Picayune Police Department. Wall retired from a government job 20 years ago. Now, directing traffic is just one of his new jobs.

"Personally, I think it's a good idea because it gives old folks like us something to do. As far as the city is concerned, I think it breaks free patrolman to do more important things," Wall said.

Wall and nine other senior volunteers also help take police reports and patrol neighborhoods.

"They aid our law enforcement officers by extra patrol, extra eyes and ears out on the streets looking for suspicious people or activity going on," Program Coordinator Kelly Wilton said. "They do vacation checks. People who are going out of town leave cards letting us know when they'll be out of town. We make it a point to make sure their house is secure."

Officer Kelly Wilton oversees the senior patrol volunteer program, which began nine months ago.

"They do not carry any weapons... but they do have a mobile radio that they carry with them."

For the seniors it's a chance to stay active and give something back to the community.

"It's all enjoyable. If it wasn't enjoyable, I don't think any of us older retirees would be doing it," Patrol Officer Bob Gieger said.

"I think camaraderie, as much as anything else. And the fact that I'm helping," Wall said.

And that help makes Picayune a safer community.

Picayune Police are looking for six more volunteers for the Senior Patrol Unit. Volunteers must get a medical release, go through eight weeks of training, and be able to work at least eight hours a month. Call Officer Kelly Wilton at (601) 798-7411 for more information.

by Al Showers