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Police Department Volunteers

June 30, 1996

* Re "Community-Based Policing Slowly Takes Root at LAPD," June 21: A key element in community policing is involving citizens in the day-to-day functions of the Police Department. Volunteers here at the Wilshire station bask in an atmosphere of being welcome and appreciated. The result is a corps of dedicated, hard-working people.

We perform a myriad of tasks, from helping staff the front desk to filing and answering phones. The annual open house in June, and the community Halloween party, each of which attracts several thousand attendees, are manned almost entirely by volunteers. Some of us have trained to do specialized jobs formerly reserved for sworn officers, thus releasing these officers to the field.

An example of the station's attitude: While dropping off some papers, I was invited to participate in the station's pre-Christmas brunch for officers and civilian employees. I went to the back of the long queue waiting to be served, when an officer gently took my arm. "At this station," he said, "Volunteers go to the head of the line." That's exactly where he led me.

GENE COSTIN

Los Angeles

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