The Town of Oro Valley has a well-known reputation for public safety, and volunteer Bob Milkey is looking to keep it that way as a member of the Citizen Volunteer Assistants Program (CVAP).
Made up of more than 80 volunteers who are primarily town residents, CVAP provides assistance to officers of the Oro Valley Police Department through a variety of tasks.
Though not sworn officers, volunteers of CVAP, some of which have law enforcement backgrounds, are trained to serve as additional sets of eyes and ears for the police department, and have radio access in their patrol vehicles should they come across a situation in which officer assistance is required.
Milkey, a retired astronomer and CVAP volunteer since May 2007, says the point of the program is not to act as law enforcement, but to serve as a crime deterrent and community resource.
“We’re not interested in trying to be police officers,” said Milkey. “We’re interested in being out there to help.”
That help comes in a variety of forms for CVAP volunteers, who perform such duties as dark house checks, fleet service assistance, fingerprinting, traffic control, community events, patrol, and more.
An Oro Valley resident, the 69-year-old Milkey says he became interested in CVAP because it fulfilled an interest that he never had time to pursue before retirement.
“I always wanted to do something in the way of civic volunteering,” said Milkey. “Emergency services and things along those lines have always been of interest to me.”
Aiding those in need is the most rewarding part of volunteering in the program, Milky says.
“I enjoy helping out those who have found themselves in an unfortunate situation, and making somebody’s life a little easier as a result of what you’ve done,” he said. “When you can help an officer do their work for the sake of public safety or public good, that’s advantageous.”
Milkey and fellow volunteers are known to provide a variety of services to benefit the community.
Sometimes that means offering transportation after a motorist has been involved in an accident or is having car problems.
The reach of CVAP also extends to residents who are out of town. As part of the Dark House Program, volunteers monitor homes of residents who have registered for the program, and who have left on vacation or other travel.
Once, that led Milkey to find a major water leak coming from inside one residence. Milkey and an officer shut off the home’s water and subsequently notified the out-of-town homeowner, who had the necessary remediation completed.
“It feels good when you save someone like that,” said Milkey. “You don’t know what would have happened if that had kept running for very much longer.”
CVAP members also offer their services at community events such as El Tour de Tucson, the Arizona Distance Classic, and Fourth of July celebrations, as well as the town’s Shred-A-Thon and Dispose-A-Med programs.
Crime prevention and deterrence is another valuable resource provided in the program. Patrol cars regularly make their rounds throughout the town, looking for suspicious or criminal activity.
Oro Valley Police Chief Danny Sharp says the town would not be the same without such volunteers.
“We have an extraordinary amount of talent in the town – it’s literally remarkable,” he said. “I have requests from all over the country asking if I can send information about our volunteer programs. What I tell my peers though, is ‘You can replicate this program, but not the people.’
For Milkey, whose wife is also a member of the program, volunteering was an easy choice upon retirement.
“I’ve never known it any other way,” he said. “I really think volunteering helps keep you active and your mind working and gives one a sense of fulfillment. I could sit on the sofa and watch baseball games all day and drink beer, but I’m not sure that would be so good for me.”
Milkey also volunteers as the chair for the town’s Water Utility Commission and for the victim services department at the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
For more information on CVAP, or to find out how to volunteer, visit the Oro Valley Police Substation at 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd. Ste 115 or call 229-5080.