Categorized | Public Safety

‘Gray Shirts’ assist police department, residents

By Jennifer Casey

Occasionally, Collierville residents may see someone around town who’s uniform looks like a police officer, yet slightly grayer.

Nicknamed “The Gray Shirts,” the Special Citizens Volunteer Program is definitely a group of special citizens. The program consists of primarily retired individuals who assist the Collierville Police Department.

SCVP members are not certified police officers, nor do they have any arrest authority. They are trained to avoid situations that may put them in any personal danger.

Members wear gray uniforms and drive cars labeled “Special Citizens Volunteer Program,” with yellow emergency lights. The members help police officers by picking up cars for repairs, assisting in traffic control at accidents and events, retrieving certain supplies, and delivering documents to the District Attorney’s office in downtown Memphis.

Taking on these duties helps keep our police officers out in the field protecting Collierville citizens.

In addition to their role supporting police officers, the SCVP administers multiple programs in the Collierville Police Department for the community. They provide daily vacation checks for residents who sign-up for the program through the police website.

They also have a newcomers program where SCVP members will visit new residents and provide them with town information and a friendly hello from the Collierville Police Department. Along with visiting new residents, they also provide a shut-in program for citizens who are confined to their homes, just to check on them or visit for a while.

Other programs include food distribution for the Food Pantry, substituting for school crossing guards, updating the local business directory for dispatch, watching handicapped parking in shopping centers and monitoring the neighborhood watch program.

Started in 1993, the Special Citizens Volunteer Program has been a huge asset to the Collierville Police Department and the community. The program started with six members and has grown to 25 volunteers.

Last year, the SCVP members volunteered for 2,080 total hours.

Owen Amann has been a part of the SCVP program for 10 years. He began volunteering after meeting a member who was directing traffic at an event.

“I discovered it’s not always an easy thing to find a meaningful use of your time when you retire,” he said. “I felt motivated to get involved and give back to the community.”

Not only is Amann grateful for the personal benefit of the program, but for the ways it helps Collierville.

“We provide a service at no cost to the town,” he noted. “We get paid a dollar a year. This alleviates the need for police officers doing these tasks, keeping them out on the streets.”

While helping the police department, the Special Citizens Volunteer Program also increases approachability of police officers. With the newcomer program and other friendly services, they hope to lessen any hesitation about interacting with the police.

Those interested in signing up for the vacation check program can go to colliervillepolice.org/forms/vacation-check-request.

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