North Aurora hopes to form volunteer corps
By Denise Linke For The Beacon-News January 8, 2013 6:34PM
Updated: February 10, 2013 6:07PM
NORTH AURORA — Residents could soon be working alongside police and firefighters as part of a volunteer disaster response group.
Members of the federal Citizens Corps program also could perform routine police duties such as clerical work and directing traffic at North Aurora Days, leaving officers free to focus more on fighting crime.
“I think citizens are a big asset in the village. We should make use of them more. This is a good way to do that,” Trustee Mark Gaffino said at a meeting of the Public Safety Committee this week.
If the Village Board approves the plan, Deputy Police Chief Scott Buziecki will form a Citizens Corps steering committee with representatives from the board, the police and fire departments and local civic groups such as the Lions Club and the North Aurora Mothers Club.
“The idea is to have this council represent a wide section of the community,” he said.
Volunteers will take part in two Citizen Corps programs: the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS). CERT volunteers will take training sessions covering disaster preparedness, fire suppression, triage, first aid, search and rescue, and related topics. They will form disaster response teams and participate in simulation drills.
If an actual disaster occurs, they will come together, organize other volunteers and provide emergency services as needed.
VIPS volunteers could take over a wide range of police duties that don’t involve personal risk or security breaches.
VIPS groups in other parts of the U.S. serve as police chaplains; direct traffic at community festivals; mark abandoned cars for towing; type, sort and file paperwork; check on homes while the owners are out of town; conduct radar surveys of roadways; and respond to building code violation complaints. It would cost about $12,000 to set up a 15-member CERT team with uniforms, safety gear and emergency equipment, Buziecki said. VIPS volunteers would only need official clothing, such as a polo shirt or cap, he added.
The village might be able to get a federal grant to fund the formation of a Citizens Corps, he added.
“We’re pressing forward with this concept,” said Police Chief David Summer. “It would be a big help to the community.”