COP grads step up to the plate for police (Full story)

Charlotte Observer

By Crystal O’Gorman
COP volunteers for 2014 graduated May 27. With their commanding officers, graduates are, front row, from left, Gonzalo Rosales, Vicky Acevedo, Susana Cisneros and Patrick Schofield; second row: Mary Rodriguez, Officer Veronica Bynoe, Patricia Stasio, James Oldham and Timothy Stevenson; third row: Deputy Chief Vicki Foster, Sanchez Allen and Randy D’Agostino; back row: Major Diego Anselmo, Captain Torri Tellis and Sgt. Loraine Ellis.



    Applicants must be 21 years old with a valid North Carolina or South Carolina driver’s license. Applicants must also submit to a drug test, fingerprinting, polygraph and interview process. Applicants must commit to a minimum of 16 hours per month and six months of service.

    For information, call 704-432-0430 or apply online at



The 13th class of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Citizens on Patrol volunteer program graduated at the Charlotte Police and Fire Training Academy on May 27.

Police retiree, teacher, student, pilot, former banking CEO and flight attendant are some of the current or former roles of those who pledged their time and dedication to support CMPD police officers.

Wearing crisp, light blue dress shirts adorned with CMPD volunteer badges and black neckties, and black pants, each COP volunteer took the stage. They received a certificate of completion and an official CMPD duffel bag with a traffic whistle, flashlight and rain gear.

“These graduates are so eager to learn and help police officers. They have great attitudes and will be a great addition to the Citizens on Patrol,” said Officer Veronica Bynoe, CMPD’s volunteer coordinator liaison.

The 11 COP graduates join 28 active COP volunteers patrolling University, North, Providence, South and Steele Creek divisions.

The COP program began in 2004 as a way to relieve patrol officers from time-consuming duties. Since then, approximately 100 COP volunteers have assisted officers in the community.

COP duties include zone checks, writing parking tickets for handicapped parking-space violations and fire line violations, vacation home and elderly well-visit checks, speed monitoring, and directing traffic during accidents and events. COP volunteers do not carry weapons or make arrests, but they do inform patrol officers of any suspicious activity.

One of the most important duties, Capt. Todd Garrett of University City Division said, is their presence in the community: “It helps deter crime.”

COP volunteers train in lake or road patrol procedures. The COP course consists of 80 hours of training that spans 11 weeks. There are three-hour classes twice a week, as well as three mandatory ride-alongs, CPR certification, and crowd control and conflict-resolution training.

After graduation, COP volunteers must complete a 90-day probationary period before they are considered active members.

Randy D’Agostino of Steele Creek is a 42-year-old Harris Teeter manager and former New York Police Department Auxiliary officer. “My family has lived in Charlotte for four years now, and I am looking forward to working alongside the police department as a COP volunteer,” he said. “(It’s a) great way to get know and give back to the community.”

Susana Cisneros, a fellow COP graduate and a Spanish professor at UNC Charlotte, said, “With this form of volunteering, I can serve my community using both languages, and it is also my desire to promote cultural understanding … working for a better world.”

Thirty family members, friends, active COP volunteers and CMPD officers congratulated the graduates and thanked them for their service to the community.

Andy Hough, COP volunteer trainer, said this group was exceptionally enthusiastic and brought great diversity to their team.

Lt. Steve Huber of North Division said, “COP officers are a great asset to our CMPD family. … (They) save lots of manpower and make the force more efficient. I am happy to welcome them to the family.”

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