JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Soon, the Johns Creek Citizen Auxiliary Police Service (CAPS) will be rolling, keeping their eyes and ears open for the Johns Creek Police Department.
There are now 28 volunteer members who will be carrying out low-priority tasks for the Johns Creek Police Department and adding a new dimension to community policing in the city.
They are the first class to graduate the CAPS training. They are 14 volunteers who have first completed the Citizens Police Academy offered every fall. The academy introduces the public to police operations and procedures. It gives residents a good overview of what policing is all about.
With that under their belts, the CAPS officers then receive further training on what they can and cannot do as civilians.
City Manager John Kachmar said these CAPS officers will not be armed and have no arrest powers. The idea is to free up officers to take on higher-priority activities. The auxiliary officers will have radios and one police cruiser in which to cruise specific areas of the city.
“They will be an extra set of eyes and ears for us, and maybe assist a stranded motorist,” said Police Chief Ed Densmore.
CAPS officers will share one patrol car equipped with radio gear. They will patrol in designated areas. Their job is to be vigilant and alert. They have been trained to spot suspicious activity.
But their only role is to report back by radio. They are never to get personally involved. If they should be confronted on foot, they are trained in techniques to keep the attacker at bay long enough to run.
“They are not to get involved in a police matter, other than to report it,” Kachmar said. “They will not be allowed to carry any weapon, even one of their own. That would get them immediate termination from the program.”
These volunteers don’t wear police uniforms but they will have CAPS polo shirts with insignia, khaki cargo pants, boots and baseball caps.
While patrolling in pairs, CAPS officers will have certain grids to patrol that include businesses and vacation watch locations and park patrol.
The eight-week course (one meeting each week) gives the class a good grounding in police procedures and duties. It also explains the duties and the constraints officers must obey in the performance of their jobs.
Their first duty is to avoid any confrontations with the public. They are given self-defense instruction.
“But the purpose of that is purely to give them the ability to get away from any assailant,” said Sgt. Debbie Kalish, one of the instructors at CAPS. “If you can’t get away, we teach defensive tactics to defend and flee.”
Once on the street, the auxiliary volunteers will have been heavily indoctrinated that they are acting as representatives of the city.
New CAPS volunteer Ramon Otero spoke for many of the volunteers when he said he wanted to give something back to his community.
“I’ve lived here 20 years, so this is a chance to do something for the city,” he said.
Alexis Lanning was at the CAPS graduation to watch her mother Jane Lanning graduate. She said she was surprised her mother volunteered for this.
“I never heard of [CAPS] before. But I support her decision,” Alexis said.
Anoop Sinha is the husband of CAPS volunteer Gita Sinha, a teacher at Abbotts Bridge Elementary School. He said he was curious and excited when his wife volunteered.
“I didn’t know what it meant. She would come back after each meeting and tell us what she did,” Sinha said. “Now we really see where she can help. This was very clever of the Johns Creek officials to bring the community closer.”