PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - It's no secret that communities in South Mississippi support their law enforcement officers and first responders. The City of Picayune takes that support to a new level with its Citizens on Patrol unit.
The safety of citizens is one of the main concerns and responsibilities of a police department. For law enforcement in Picayune, that responsibility is shared through a partnership with people like you and me.
It's called Citizens on Patrol.
"We volunteer to help on parades, special events, traffic, football games, basketball games, any place we can offset a policeman where they can do their duties," said volunteer Norm Fenstermacher.
According to Fenstermacher, the unit is made up of people from the community who want to help the department with tasks that can be handled by dedicated citizens.
"All we're trying to do is cut down the extra load of the police department," Fenstermacher said.
The fact that the unit takes some of the responsibility off the shoulders of police means a bit of a break financially. Capt. Theresa Milar, with the police department, works closely with the volunteer unit. She said the services these men and women provide ease the everyday burden.
"Everybody has budget problems. This just helps with our budget issues. Having somebody out there to do our Christmas parade, they're out there. They do anything we ask them to do. It just helps our manpower," said Milar.
Fenstermacher said the unit also helps with community police relations. These citizens not only volunteer their time for patrols and events, but also do outreach on behalf of the police department.
For volunteer, Lela Guidry, it's a worthwhile effort she says helps everyone in the end.
"I'm doing what I feel needs to be done in this world to help them keep us safe," said Guidry.
The Citizens on Patrol unit is currently working to get more volunteers and funds so its reach can expand and help the department even more.