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  • Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers patrolling The Loop

    Aug 03, 2015 | Read More News
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    Several days a week, auxiliary volunteers from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department are hopping aboard their bikes and cruising The Loop, encouraging riders, joggers and all others who traverse the shared-use path to have fun while staying safe.

    Volunteers patrol The LoopThe sheriff’s auxiliary volunteers (SAVs) have been in place for years, helping the Sheriff’s Department with tasks like traffic control and office assistance. Mickey Dowling joined the volunteers eight years ago after retiring to Tucson from a career in the Naval Reserves. He was running traffic control for an event at the Julian Wash last year when Sheriff Chris Nanos suggested they start a bike patrol. 

    So began the process of adding specialized classes for bike patrol to the SAV’s training program. Volunteers who are interested in becoming part of the bike patrol need to first pass the basic SAV training classes, followed by a qualification for Field Operations & Emergency Response. Finally, they need to pass specialized training to enter the Patrol Division. The entire training regimen includes: traffic control, legal issues, map reading, communications, first aid, documentation, and knowledge of the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System. SAVs also have continuing education requirements and monthly patrol hour minimums.

    The bike patrol volunteers are out regularly in two-person teams for two- to three-hour shifts. They maintain regular radio contact with the Pima County’s Sheriff’s Department, whom they call for back up if needed.

    Dowling said the biggest issue bike patrollers see on The Loop is cyclists riding too fast. And though SAVs are not sworn law-enforcement officers, Dowling said Loop users respect the volunteers’ authority.

    “Numerous people stop us and say how much they appreciate us coming out,” Dowling said. 

    SAVs began patrolling The Loop June 18. In their first two weeks on the job, they had been on all segments of The Loop, where they had spent a total of 42 hours, traveled 222 miles, and made 526 contacts. 

    Javier Valdez was riding near Santa Cruz River Park July 26 when he spotted Dowling and colleague Angie Finbres on patrol. He’s grateful for the extra sets of eyes and ears.

    “I just saw them. It’s comforting to see them out
    here,” he said.

    Wallace Wong agreed. He rides at least once a week, but drives to The Loop with his bike in his car.

    “I worry about the break-ins of vehicles,” he said. “This really is necessary.”