Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) is a national government-sponsored volunteer program. VIPS was formed after former President George W. Bush encouraged Americans to give back to their communities in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The major goal of VIPS is to help volunteers and police stations work productively together for the greater good. VIPS can put you in touch with the closest police station that's participating in a volunteer program. From there, you can work on various projects, such as administrative duties, neighborhood watch, cold cases, disaster response or search and rescue [source: VIPS].
In some cities, you might be able to become part of a reserve or auxiliary police force. The New York City Auxiliary Police Program has been around since 1950. Within this program, unpaid volunteers observe and report [source: NYPD]. For citizens ages 50 and older, many police departments also offer senior volunteer programs where you can assist with fingerprinting, graffiti sightings and vacation house checks [source: City of Chula Vista].
You can also look for opportunities to volunteer with a sheriff's department. In Santa Clarita, Calif., Volunteers on Patrol work with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to search for missing children, conduct traffic and perform safety checks on schools, businesses and shopping malls [source: LASD].
Still on the fence about volunteering? Read on to learn about the benefits of volunteering with the police.