Police Chief Bryan Denton lauded the service of the city’s Public Safety Unit at a recent meeting of the Board of Mayor and Alderman on Tuesday night, and incidentally issued a plea for more volunteers for the local unit, which has experienced a reduction in numbers.
“The members of the PSU are here tonight, most of them are,” Denton told the aldermen. “I’d asked them to come because I just like to briefly recognize them and publicly show my appreciation for the job they do with us and to tell you how much I appreciate your continued support of these guys.”
Denton asked the men to stand up and they received general applause from the mayor and aldermen and those assembled at the meeting.
The men included Jimmy Whitman, Lester Cowell, Bob Molloy, Norman Elrod and Mike Baus. Not present at the meeting were Danny Bragg and Allan Jaco.
“This group was formed in 2003 by the board that was in place then,” Denton said, noting the city is very particular about who they appoint to the PSU.
According to the city, the primary purpose of the Public Safety Unit is to enhance the community by supporting local emergency services, fire, emergency medical and police, while making positive contacts with citizens.
The unit directs traffic when needed, works funeral processions and performs other non-enforcement duties. They do not carry weapons, issue citations or make arrests. They do not receive any kind of salary. They do receive uniforms and the equipment needed to perform their duties.
“These guys undergo initial training, as well as training every month,” Denton said. “This board allocates about $6,000 a year for these guys. That buys fuel, uniforms and just basic supplies they need. The original grant bought uniforms and vehicles.
“Let me tell you a little bit about the investment you make with these guys,” Denton said. “Last year these guys led 299 funerals. They assisted police officers 111 times with traffic control, usually at the scene of an accident. Over time they’ve done 1,780 patrols up and down the greenway since 2003. Over that time they’ve had over 9,500 responses they have answered. They do strictly non-enforcement type things that frees policemen up to do other things they need to be doing.
“This all adds up to, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, 19,525 total hours these guys have put in since the inception of this unit,” Denton said. “So again, I’d just like to tell you how much I appreciate you.”
Mayor Norman Rone echoed that appreciation.
“We certainly appreciate their efforts,” Rone said. “I’ve been really proud of them. Since I’ve been in office this time I realize how much they do and how hard they work. I see them out there in the rain and snow doing funerals and the other things they do. They’re a major asset to the police department.”
Denton went on to say the department is on a recruiting campaign to build up the ranks of the unit.
“We’re very particular about who we bring into our Public Safety Unit,” Denton said.
The qualifications to serve in the PSU include:
• Must be a volunteer and agree to work without monetary compensation
• Must undergo and pass background and fingerprint checks conducted by McMinnville Police Department
• Must have a valid Tennessee driver license
• Must make a commitment to work a minimum of four hours per week and for a minimum of one year
• Must be willing to be under the command and direction of McMinnville Police Department and sign a contract agreement
• Must be willing to represent McMinnville Police Department and carry identification without possessing the powers, duties or responsibilities of certified officers
• Must be willing to complete all required training sessions, meetings and be available for non-enforcement duties as delegated to the PSU by the chief of police
• Must pass the initial training phase provided by the PSU coordinator
For more information, or to volunteer for the PSU, contact McMinnville Police Department.