Celina Community Police Foundation

Mathew Eberius, Celina Community Police Foundation board president, left, and Karen Williams, vice president/secretary, right, volunteered on Nov. 6 at the Troubadour Festival, marking the first time volunteers with the Volunteers in Policing program were on the field.

When Mathew Eberius moved to Celina from Florida, the first thing he noticed was the lack of a volunteer police program.

Eberius, a member of the inaugural Celina Citizens Police Academy, said the class decided there was a void in funding for community policing and in volunteer support for the Celina Police Department. The academy was a first step in bringing in the community and providing an inside look at the police department, Eberius said.

“So from there, most of the class kind of agreed, and the police department said it right out, ‘We could use volunteers. We could use help,’” he said.

As a result, the class founded the Celina Community Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at supporting the Celina Police Department’s community efforts. Eberius, the foundation president, said that means providing support for initiatives like National Night Out and the Citizens Police Academy, but it also meant kickstarting a volunteer program.

The program, dubbed “Volunteers in Policing” (VIP) currently has five volunteers consisting of the foundation’s board members. This month marked the first time VIPs were in action as part of the inaugural Troubadour Festival hosted in Celina on Nov. 6, when Eberius said “just about every officer was working.”

“We needed volunteers to take on some of those tasks that didn’t necessarily require a police officer,” he said.

Eberius is familiar with the benefits of having a volunteer program. He uses the example of a minor accident scene, where an officer could be tied up for two or three hours waiting on a tow truck and for the road to clear.

“If a volunteer was sitting there just waiting behind the scene on the tow truck, making sure the roadway’s clear or whatever needs to happen, that frees up that officer for more emergent calls, if you will,” Eberius said.

Eberius said efforts are currently underway to draft training guides, prepare uniforms and design a patch. The program will be developed over the next two and a half years with plans to launch “full force” when the new Celina Police Department building is built.

To be a part of the VIP program, volunteers must go through the Citizens Police Academy and then will undergo additional training in various areas depending on what CPD needs as the department grows. By the time the new department building opens, Beeriusu said he hopes to have roughly 30 to 50 volunteers.

“We’ve already got people from two classes of the citizens police academy ready to go. So we hope that they’ll want to jump in and keep moving forward with their involvement in the police department,” he said.

Eberius said membership information for the foundation should be available by next month. More information is available at the foundation Facebook page, facebook.com/celinapolicefoundation.

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