The Marana Police Department is doing a number of things to try and make this holiday shopping season a safe one for shoppers, workers and businesses. They recently launched their “Lock It or Lose It” campaign, have increased patrols on heavy shopping days and begun utilizing their Volunteers in Police Service (also known as VIPS) to add an added law enforcement presence.
“The whole point of the program is to build a stronger partnership with local businesses,” said Officer David Danielson of the Community Resource Unit. “We already have a great relationship, but this will provide a stronger one-on-one relationship.”
The VIPS have been going on foot patrols in retail areas and their presence serves many purposes. By being visible they want to make sure shoppers feel safe and act as a deterrent for would-be criminals.
The foot patrols walk both inside and outside of businesses, talking to customers, employees, and business owners. Their primary job is to serve as the eyes and ears of the Marana Police Department. If they see something suspicious in the store they can report it to store employees, or if the suspicious party leaves the store, they can radio Marana Police Officers to interact with the suspect.
“If we do see something suspicious we report it,” said Tom Cox, a member of the VIPS Foot Patrol.
The VIPS members are also introducing business owners to the Coalition Against Retail Theft (called CART) program, which aims to reduce shoplifting by educating retailers, consumers and perpetrators about our community’s intolerance for organized retail theft.
“It helps the business community curb shoplifting,” Cox said.
The VIPS Foot Patrol is a new unit and so far the program has been a hit with local businesses. The idea was to utilize these trained volunteers to create an added police presence, without having to take actual Marana Police Officers away from their other duties.
With every VIPS member having a radio connected to police dispatch, an MPD officer is just a call away.
Cox said, to date, “100 percent” of the businesses have embraced the program and welcome the added law enforcement presence in the area.
Although this version of the VIPS Foot Patrol program is new, the VIPS have been patrolling neighborhoods and businesses for years.
“Our VIPS has been a tremendous asset for the Marana Police Department,” said Danielson.
This story was originally featured in the Town of Marana News Room, which can be found online at maranaaz.gov/newsroom.