The Metropolitan Police Department is getting a few good recruits to help its ranks. They're not full-fledged police officers but rather volunteers.
They work under the Volunteer Patrol Services, and 21 of them -- about half of them female -- graduated May 11 from the Jerry Keller Training Center, 9880 W. Cheyenne Ave. They are the first to undergo training for the new program.
Officers Christopher Church and Fred Oliveri were the program instructors.
"Pretty much, these were people who all want to be police officers," Church said.
The program was developed, said Church, to be "another set of eyes and ears" in areas where the department needs a stronger presence.
Those areas are Fremont Street and the Strip. Church said residential neighborhoods would not likely see the volunteers unless a need develops.
The volunteers have no authority to arrest people, and they carry police radios but not guns.
In their six weeks of training, they learned "assist skills" -- map reading, communications, radio protocol and conflict management and associated duties.
The volunteers come from varied backgrounds. One was an accountant, another a front desk clerk at a hotel. Some worked in security at Strip hotels.
Still others already had worked with the department as part of the Explorer program and were about to "age out." Explorers are the equivalent of high school ROTC participants, for 16- to 21-year-olds. They get a taste of what it's like to be in the ranks.
Several carved out time to train despite having full-time jobs.
"One of them, this is amazing, he worked full time and went to school full time and ... also did this," Church said.
Did that recruit fall asleep in class?
"No," said Church. "I would have."
After graduating from the academy, the new recruits were assigned field training -- being paired with an officer and shadowing them as an observer. It involves a minimum of 10 hours a month over a six-month period.
Christina Furtado, 36, is one of the Volunteer Patrol Services graduates. She has a degree in criminal justice and wanted to "test the waters" and see if a career as an officer was right for her.
Part of the training included learning defense tactics. It also included being hit in the face with pepper spray . The result: immediate burning of the eyes and face and coughing as the upper respiratory system took the hit.
"There was painful burning, and your eyes slammed shut ... They did it, like, from a foot away," Furtado said.
It took 15 to 20 minutes before the volunteers were able to continue with the class. Some were a ffected more than others.
"Some people's eyes were blood shot for a few days afterward," she said.
Nicole Ciotti, 21, is another graduate who wants to be an officer. She, too, has a criminal justice degree and a minor in psychology.
The most interesting part for her, she said, was learning to speak with victims or those who had experienced a stressful situation. Class included some role playing.
"They showed you how to have empathy but also have the correct response," she said.
Sean Pascoe, 19, was a recruit. Both his parents are retired police officers. To help learn the "100 block" system of map reading, his father drove him around town, stopped and had him locate the spot on a map.
The exercise gave him real-world application for what he'd been told in class.
His instructors had some learning of their own to do -- Pascoe's identical twin brother, Christopher, went through the program with him.
"They called us 'Twin 1' and 'Twin 2,' " Sean Pascoe said.
For more information on the program, visit lvmpd.com.
Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-2949.