Origin of the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program
President George W. Bush created USA Freedom Corps (USAFC) to build on the countless acts of service, sacrifice, and generosity that followed September 11. When he announced USAFC in his 2002 State of the Union address, he called on all Americans to serve a cause greater than themselves.
Citizen Corps was created to help coordinate volunteer activities to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to any emergency situation. It provides opportunities for people to participate in a range of measures to make their families, their homes, and their communities safer from threats of crime, terrorism, and disasters of all kinds.
Citizen Corps partner programs build on the successful efforts in place in many communities around the country to prevent crime and respond to emergencies. Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) is one of five Citizen Corps partner programs. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) manages and implements the VIPS Program in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
VIPS Goals and Objectives
The VIPS Program provides support and resources for agencies interested in developing or enhancing a volunteer program and for citizens who wish to volunteer their time and skills with a community law enforcement agency. The program’s ultimate goal is to enhance the capacity of state and local law enforcement to utilize volunteers.
Through this program, the VIPS staff seeks to
- learn about promising practices being used in existing VIPS programs and share this information with law enforcement agencies that want to expand their programs,
- increase the use of volunteers in existing programs,
- help citizens learn about and become involved in VIPS programs in their communities, and
- help agencies without volunteer programs get them started.
The foundation of VIPS is this Web site, which serves as a gateway to information for law enforcement agencies and citizens interested in law enforcement volunteer programs.
This Web site offers
- a directory summarizing volunteer opportunities available in law enforcement agencies across the country. The directory is a searchable resource for agencies that are looking to network and contact programs offering similar or desired volunteer roles. It also serves as a resource for citizens searching for volunteer opportunities.
- a library of sample documents and forms, including policies and procedures, training materials, and screening forms.
- Volunteer Programs: Enhancing Public Safety by Leveraging Resources, a resource guide for law enforcement agencies interested in starting a volunteer program.
- VIPS in Focus, a publications series that builds on this resource guide, addressing specific elements and issues related to law enforcement volunteer programs.
- a model policy developed in collaboration with IACP’s National Law Enforcement Policy Center.
- an introductory e-learning course addressing the principles of starting a law enforcement volunteer program. This course is designed for persons charged with implementing a program in state, local, tribal, and campus law enforcement agencies. Participants will come away with a greater understanding of the importance of program infrastructure, recruitment, volunteer selection, training, and recognition.
- educational programs for law enforcement executives and volunteer coordinators at state, regional, and national meetings or conferences.
- technical assistance program to help local agencies determine their volunteer needs and design programs that will effectively meet those needs.
- a mentor program that pairs new law enforcement volunteer coordinators in need of support with experienced coordinators.
- educational videos.
- VIPS Info, a monthly electronic newsletter that provides news and events about the VIPS Program and law enforcement volunteer activities across the country.
- VIPS in the News, real time access to news stories highlighting local law enforcement volunteer programs. News articles are posted directly to the VIPS Web site.
- VIPS to VIPS, a moderated online discussion group for law enforcement volunteer program leaders to share information and ideas.
How to Get Involved With VIPS
For a law enforcement agency to register as a VIPS program, volunteers must work directly within the agency through an in-house volunteer program or with an organization operating in concert with a law enforcement agency, such as a citizens’ police academy alumni association or a Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), to place volunteers. Registration can be completed online here.
If you are interested in volunteering, visit the directory to find a program near you.