In addition to municipal offices, a utilitarian kitchen and a garage for the Public Works department, Millwood City Hall is home to a unique group of volunteers.
In 2003, the West Valley branch of the Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Effort moved from an office on Trent Avenue to a downstairs space in the two-story brick building on Argonne Road, an area that once housed a small library.
Millwood Mayor Dan Mork said the transition has been a good one for the entire West Valley community.
“It’s worked out well,” he said. “They’re at the center of town. People know where they are.”
|The West Valley branch of the Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Effort is housed in the lower level of Millwood City Hall and includes nearly 40 volunteers. Last year the station accounted for nearly 9,400 volunteer hours.
Photo by: Craig Howard
One of 18 SCOPE stations in Spokane County, the West Valley division consists of close to 40 volunteers, most of them retired. Bob Burke, 95, served as the dean of the Gonzaga University School of Business for 25 years. He now works a half-day shift once a week as part of a dedicated SCOPE roster.
“You’re actually doing some good for the community,” Burke said. “Some days, you may not do much, but you’re there in case someone needs help.”
From helping residents locate a resource to patrolling neighborhoods for suspicious activity, volunteers supplement local law enforcement efforts, providing what Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has called “an extra set of eyes and ears.”
“We’re not police, but we’re here to help the department any way we can,” said Paul Nilson, who began volunteering over a dozen years ago.
The list of activities includes ticketing cars parked illegally in spaces reserved for disabled residents, making sure commercial sites are secure and donating time to programs like the Sheriff’s Incident Response Team which handles traffic control during emergencies.
Rick Scott, SCOPE director, said the West Valley branch is recognized as “one of the founding stations” going back to the first year of the program in 1995.
“It’s a really good station,” Scott said. “What’s nice is that they’re involved in the community and things like city politics. I think it shows the leadership qualities of their volunteers.”
Last year, West Valley SCOPE contributed 9,386 volunteer hours, second only to the Central Valley station in donated time. Overall, SCOPE branches accounted for 83,630 hours, the equivalent of $1.7 million in staff time.
June King, one of the original members of the station, attends every Millwood City Council meeting, providing updates on SCOPE events like the annual West Valley Days parade and carnival and other civic happenings. King said the branch continues to build around themes of safety and awareness by emphasizing that residents “are alert to who belongs in their neighborhood.”
Several years ago, volunteers staked out neighborhoods after a series of residential break-ins in the Millwood area. The effort led to police catching the robber.
King said the increase in Neighborhood Watch programs – there are now 56 throughout greater West Valley – has added to the focus on community well-being.
In the first month of 2010, the West Valley SCOPE time sheet totaled 875 hours. Those who donate time can work as little as a few hours a week, or, in the case of someone like volunteer Todd Callihan, 141 hours a month.
“It’s amazing,” Mork said. “It’s a group that is very important to our community.”
Want to find out more?
The next training for the Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Effort will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20. To learn more, call Rick Scott at 477-3376. To find out more about starting a Neighborhood Watch program in your area, call Diana Somerville at 477-3055.