It’s often said that America has an all-volunteer Army. I don’t think so. Every United States soldier receives a paycheck. The compensation may be meager (and the hours inflexible), but I reckon that getting paid for a service makes you a professional. A “volunteer” doesn’t get paid. To wit: the Largo Florida Volunteers in Policing force. “In October alone, a staff of 55 worked 1,297 hours, securing accident scenes, checking pawn shops for stolen items and patrolling city streets,” the St. Petersburg Times reports. “They were paid $0. And are proud of it.” While nothing in the article indicates that the Volunteers are proud of not being paid, one thing’s for sure: the VIPs are saving the Gulf Coast town mucho dinero . . .
If a dollar value were placed on the VIPs, as the volunteers are called, it would be significant – about $250,000 per year, using the lowest grade officer pay ($20.50 per hour) as a basis for the value of an hour worked . . .
That, according to Hill, is a big money saver for the Police Department, which has been forced to tighten its belt recently to correspond with city budget reductions.
TTAG called Richard Hageman, Volunteer Coordinator for the Largo Police. Hageman told TTAG that these not-a-civilian, not-quite-a-cop cops are not armed. “No sir, they have no weapons at all.” Nor does Largo’s white shirt and black pants brigade (with sewn-on badges) receive any force-on-force training. But “They’re all equipped with radios. If they need one, a regular policeman is there in seconds.”
Setting aside the question of how many seconds that might be, ignoring the inherent problems of sending someone on patrol without the power of arrest or so much as a can of pepper spray, you’ve got to wonder if an unpaid citizen police force is fundamentally flawed idea. Don’t Largo residents deserve “real” cops instead of what looks a lot like union-busting security theater or, as one VIP put it, a “human cone”?
Would you be happy with a supplementary volunteer police force patrolling the streets of your town and poking their noses into local pawn shops? More to the point, would you, a member of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia (by default) join a volunteer police force? Would you do so unarmed?