An extra set of eyes and ears can help keep a neighborhood safe and sound.

Starting in September, members of the Oregon State Police Volunteers have been patrolling neighborhoods near the public schools in Lincoln City, Newport and Waldport – on the lookout for suspicious behavior and potential problems.

Lincoln County School District Safety Coordinator Sue Graves said the OSP Volunteers’ goal is to be a visible presence near the schools in order to promote a safe school climate. The volunteers hope to deter, prevent, and reduce crime and other undesirable behavior near and on school campuses.

“We are grateful for the OSP’s role in our ongoing efforts to improve safety at our schools,” Graves said. “The OSP volunteers are randomly patrolling outside our schools, either in a marked vehicle or on foot. While they don’t have the authority to approach or challenge anyone, they will be alert to emergencies and possible problems, and take the appropriate action.”

The volunteers are easily identifiable, with the words, “State Police Volunteer,” clearly visible on jackets, vests, hats, ID badges, and vehicles. If an OSP Volunteer witnesses a problem, he or she will call 911 if it is an emergency. If it is not an emergency, the volunteer will make a report to the school principal, secretary or school resource officer.

The OSP Volunteers organization has been in active in Lincoln County for more than 25 years. There used to be a State Parks division and a Fish and Wildlife division, but the two merged into one volunteer group a few years ago. This is the first year that the OSP Volunteers have patrolled the LCSD schools.

Lincoln City resident Sheridan Jones, and his wife, Crichton, are longtime OSP Volunteers who appreciate the opportunity to extend their service to the local schools.

“Our primary purpose is to assist the state police by being their eyes and ears,” said Jones. “We can evaluate a situation and deal with it, saving them a lot of time and trouble.”

After filling out an application and passing a background check, volunteers are trained in the proper protocol for their position. The OSP Volunteers in Lincoln County are actively recruiting more volunteers to expand their services.

For information, call the Newport Area Command at 541-265-5354.

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