FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s all hands on deck for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office as they announced a revamped program formerly known as VOICE. The revamped group goes by the title of Civilian Support Unit. CSU will help provide extra boots on the ground for residents of Lee County.
LCSO says the volunteer program provides extra security at no cost to taxpayers. Adding the revamped volunteer unit is a big help for the county and has been able to help in the recent weather events as they were deployed to help throughout the multiple neighborhoods where tornadoes hit.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno says, “It’s an extra set of eyes and ears in our neighborhoods.”
Currently the Sheriff's Office has 135 volunteers. Lee County is 12,060 square miles of land and water with almost 1,700 employees. Sheriff Marceno says this unit costs taxpayers zero dollars.
“It saves the taxpayer millions of dollars a year millions; at an accident crash we can free up a law enforcement officer and our civilian support unit can stand by for a tow truck they can direct traffic,” he said.
The sheriff adds that the civilians are out providing extra patrols in schools and other public areas as this program is custom tailored for the citizen.
“If we have people back here who have extensive knowledge with marine with the coast guard, we take that talent and we put them right into the marine unit. This unit is custom tailored to fit the individual.”
Terry Hall, a CSU volunteer, says “It’s our way to give back.”
Hall is a volunteer with the Civilian Support Unit’s Bicycle Patrol. “I’m an avid cyclist anyway I like to ride at least 50 miles a week sometimes 100 and I get to do it for the Sheriff.”
Every CSU member receives respective training. “They sponsored me to take a 40-hour course to become a police public safety cyclist," said Hall. "It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and I was the oldest person, at 75, to ever complete the course. I patrol the parks, the beaches, the shopping malls. The bike is invaluable in surveillance. I ride parade routes and race routes beforehand looking for any suspicious things.”
Hall is 80 years old and just one of the CSU members who have provided many hours of extra support for Lee County. In Hall's case, he's racked up a thousand hours of service in just one calendar year.
"That’s zero cost to the taxpayer and a person that can be anywhere he wants," Marceno said of Hall. "He's retired and comes here 80 years old and smiles and gives back; it’s a blessing.”
“And I’m where I want to be. It’s just an honor I just feel so honored to represent the sheriff," said Hall.
The Sheriff's Office is looking to double even triple the amount of volunteers. If you want to become a CSU member you can email CSU@sheriffleefl.org or call 239-477-1422.