The Cape Coral Police Department's Volunteer Unit is seeking applicants for its patrol division.
The unit will hold an academy class to certify new volunteers Sept. 30 through Oct. 4. The course includes more than 40 hours and covers basic procedures, law enforcement and legal guidelines.
"When you retire, you have to fill your time with something," volunteer Lt. Jerry Monroe, who oversees the patrol and administrative divisions, said. "It gets you out. It keeps you active."
"You're giving back to the community," he added.
While the upcoming academy aims to fill current vacancies within the patrol division, certified volunteers may qualify for the marine division and administrative division as openings occur.
"It's primarily set up for the patrol unit, but others can come in just as long as they understand there's no opening for the marine unit, at this point," Monroe said.
Class starts at about 8 or 8:30 a.m. each day and will conclude by 3 p.m.
"It isn't all class time," he said.
At the end of Friday, a test will be administered to the participants. Those who pass the test must then complete 96 hours out on the city's roads with a patrol trainer before being certified as a volunteer.
Each academy takes 30 to 35 applicants, with about 25 following through to certification.
"We're looking to get that kind of number," Monroe said.
As of Tuesday, approximately 10 applicants had been accepted.
Volunteers are required to put in at least 16 hours a month.
"Most of them do a lot more than that," he said.
A background in law enforcement is not required to apply.
"It really has nothing to do with it. It's their willingness to go through the academy and complete it," Monroe said. "You don't have to have a police background."
Those interested in the academy can fill out an application at the Cape Coral Police Department, at 100 Cultural Park Blvd. Applicants will be interviewed, fingerprinted and subject to a background check.
They must be over 21, a Lee County resident and possess a valid Florida driver's license.
The deadline for submitting applications is Aug. 9.
Currently, there are between 135 and 140 members of the Volunteer Unit.
"They help with all sorts of things," Monroe said.
Volunteers assist with the enforcement of non-moving violations, like handicap parking, parking in a fire lane, median parking, parking on a sidewalk, parking in front of a fire hydrant and more. If a traffic signal goes out, volunteers help direct traffic, and they occasionally fill in for school crossing guards.
"If there's an accident, we're there and we assist the police in any manner they need," he said.
"We handle things and free the police up, so they can do their job," Monroe added.
Volunteers help clear road hazards, conduct vacation home checks and assist with special events, such as Red, White and Boom and the Coconut Festival. They also make deliveries to the court system.
"We have nothing to do with the bad guys, basically," he said.
Officials estimated that the Volunteer Unit saved the city approximately $750,000 last year.
"It's worth it," Monroe said of the units efforts.
For more information on becoming a volunteer, call (239) 242-3346.