DOWNTOWN —The Glendale Police Department has moved its Retired Senior Volunteer Program to the Americana at Brand to increase the number of eyes monitoring the busy shopping center.
With more visitors frequenting the city's downtown districts, the Police Department opted to move the volunteer program from its headquarters to its substation in the Americana to enhance their availability, Police Sgt. Javier Ruiz said.
"Putting them in a central location where we have the most pedestrian traffic in the downtown area of Glendale, it makes them very visible and it makes them very accessible," he said.
As ambassadors of the Police Department, the program's volunteers, who are mostly retired Glendale residents, will be available to answer questions, take complaints or chat with visitors.
"It gets them out of a car and out on foot and talking to people, greeting people and basically engaging people in conversation," Ruiz said.
The 16 senior volunteers, who work at least one day per week, are responsible for issuing parking citations, keeping tabs on graffiti and illegal dumping, monitoring parking lots and checking homes whose owners have gone away for vacation and requested periodic checks from police.
Having volunteers on the streets and in shopping areas provides critical support for the Police Department and helps strengthen its force, he said.
"They are the eyes and ears of the Glendale Police Department, so when they see things or hear things they can report them back to the police officers and they can report it back to the mall security offices," Ruiz said.
The increased visibility could also help boost the program's membership, he added.
Volunteer Marion Mandeson, who has devoted her free time for eight years to the police department, said her role at the Americana will be no different than the service she provides during the holidays.
"If anything is happening that requires police attention, we will then get one of the officers to come and take care of it," she said.
Jean and Alan Zimmerman, a husband-and-wife team, were looking forward to expanding their roles as senior volunteers at the Americana.
The couple said they have learned more about the city in their five years of service with the department than their more than 40 years of being residents.
They helped police last week notify residents of vehicle burglars who were stealing navigation systems.
"Giving back to the community — that's what we appreciate about it," Jean Zimmerman said.