The Cape Coral Police Department's Volunteer Unit is taking applications for its academy.
The next Police Volunteer Unit Academy class will be held Sept. 29 through Oct. 3 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the city's police department. The deadline to submit an application is Aug. 8.
"We need people, primarily, for the patrol division," Capt. Terry Nicodemus, of the Volunteer Unit, said. "Once you go through the academy, you can go do any of those divisions or all of them."
The unit consists of the Patrol Division, Marine Division and Administrative Division.
"The Patrol Division does out and patrols the streets of Cape Coral," he said.
Volunteers patrol hotspots like shopping centers and the hospital, keeping an eye out for vehicles parked illegally in handicapped spots or fire lanes. They can write tickets for non-moving violations. If there is a crash or a disabled vehicle or if a traffic signal goes out, the division helps direct traffic.
"We also work some special events, like Red, White & Boom," Nicodemus said.
Other duties of the Patrol Division include vacation house checks and transporting documents to the Lee County Justice Center in Fort Myers. The volunteers oversee a fleet of a dozen vehicles.
The Marine Division keeps an eye on the Cape's canals and waterways, with one volunteer boat patrolling the North Spreader and a second one operating out of the Cape Coral Yacht Club.
"We look for speeders, debris," he said. "We look for missing signs."
Unlike the Patrol Division, the volunteer Marine Unit cannot issue any citations.
Those interested in volunteering only in the Administrative Division are not required to attend the academy. The division operates the information desk at the police department and at City Hall.
"The first person they see when they walk through the door is a police volunteer," Nicodemus said.
Administrative volunteers also do some clerical work and do fingerprinting for the public.
"Our people are trained to be both ink and electronic fingerprints," he said.
Fingerprinting is available Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. No appointment is needed.
To apply to be a volunteer, fill out an application at the police department.
Applicants must be a Lee County resident, over 21 and have a valid Florida driver's license.
"They will be subject to an interview and background check," Nicodemus said.
Volunteers are required to work in at least 16 hours per month, and each shift is four hours long.
"People usually do more than that," he said, adding that an average volunteer puts in an estimated 30 hours per month. "We've had some people work this almost like a full-time job."
A high percentage of the volunteers are retirees. Nicodemus cited himself as an example.
"I wasn't looking to be a policeman - I was looking for something to kill time," he laughed.
Applicants do not need a law enforcement background to be considered.
"We augment the police department," Nicodemus said. "We do things that cops don't do."
While there are no physical requirements to become a volunteer, some of the Patrol Division and Marine Division duties call for general good health. Marine volunteers must get on and off the boats.
"We have to be able to stand out and direct traffic," he added of the patrol volunteers.
Nicodemus noted that a man who uses a wheelchair recently joined the Administrative Division.
"There's pretty much something for everyone," he said.
Applicants who complete the academy and become volunteers are provided with uniforms.
"We furnish everything," Nicodemus said. "They won't have to spend any money."
The unit is aiming to sign up 40 applicants for the academy.
"About 80 percent make it through the class," he said. "For one reason or another, we get some dropouts."
In the academy, the emphasis is on writing tickets, radio procedures and various duties.
"Everything we do will be explained in that class," Nicodemus said.
After completing the academy, volunteers who join the Patrol Division must undergo a 96-hour probationary period, while the Marine Division volunteers go through a 56-hour period.
For more information, contact the CCPD's Volunteer Unit at (239) 242-3346.
The Cape Coral Police Department is at 1100 Cultural Park Blvd.