Kunkel said she’s also working on a program where the most trusted volunteers will be used to do house checks requested by owners on vacation. Those volunteers also will be patrolling larger areas in vehicles provided the city, often during busy times.
“You build the partnerships and you build the trust,” she said. “We really need the neighborhoods to get involved.”
Mike Gillispie, an active member of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association, said he’s intrigued by the opportunity to drive a police car. A bonus will be getting some photographs to show to his kids. A down side is drivers will be working early shifts.
“If I can fit it into my schedule, I might do it,” he said. “But 7:30 in the morning is getting kind of early in the winter.”
Gillispie, who is semi-retired, also wondered if some time behind the wheel would create an itch that would have to be scratched.
“If I saw someone run a stop sign, I’d have to make a citizens arrest,” he said. “I’d just be doing my duty, right?”
He was joking. Kunkel wasn’t kidding when she said a background check and some basic training will be required. As long as volunteers avoid playing with the computers and radios — and fight the urge to put the super-charged engines to the test — driving a squad car is a lot like driving any other car, Kunkel said.
“You can sit in it and see all the neat stuff in it, but you can’t tear around town.”