Tsunami Debris Info
Tsunami Evacuation Maps (.pdf)
Tsunami Evacuation Information
The Rockaway Beach Police Department is a very small department (three sworn including chief and two reserve officers), and has no paid civilian staff support. Therefore, in prior years when the officer was out on patrol, the office was closed and dark. Chief Wortman came to Rockaway Beach in February of 2007 and started a Police Volunteer program patterned after the IACP Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS). We now have 19 citizen volunteers that staff the office during the day, typically manning the counter and doing work that is within their capabilities. We have some that are computer phobic, some that are very computer literate, some (2 Ph.D.s and 3 attorneys, all retired) that also assist in grant writing and administration. We also have a few that just want to get out of the house AND contribute to community safety, so they volunteer at the station where they may read a book and answer phones and/or questions. Regardless of the particular specialty of the volunteer on duty during any given day, they keep the office lights on, the door open, and make the department accessible to the public. Chief Wortman stated he gets lots of great comments on the program because the citizens CAN come to the station and talk to someone. If they need an officer, one is called for them; if any officer is not needed, directions are given or general questions are answered by the volunteer.
The Police Volunteers provide a great service for the community and they have become wonderful ambassadors for the Police Department. Chief Wortman says: “They have an opportunity to see what we do; they hear the discussion in the office, get tips or complaints over the phone, and have earned the trust of both peers and officers.” Volunteers are required to participate in a criminal background check, go through an orientation, and commit to two hour shifts at the station. Part of their orientation is a discussion of the confidentiality of information, the limits on what volunteers are allowed to do or say, and the importance of Police professional and personal integrity. They are made aware of the difference between what we think we “know” and what we can prove.
Each Police Volunteer brings strengths to the organization and contributes significantly to the well being of the community. Volunteers have given us over 2,400 hours of volunteer time each year since 2007 (the equivalent of $20,000.00 computed at minimum wage). They handle about 1,500 phone calls and an equal number of walk-ins per year. The majority of these citizen contacts are handled by the volunteers without ever contacting a police officer. The most common questions posed to the volunteers concern directions, road conditions, use of a phone book, location of restaurants, hotels and local tourist sites. Some people just want to stop and chat, ask about the community or see a friendly face. Others want to see an officer and one is brought in from the field to assist them, says Chief Wortman.
In addition to such activities as organizing safety information on the counter at the police office, and keeping the office clean, inviting, and typically tastefully decorated in appropriate holiday themes, the Police Volunteers have been instrumental in organizing a barbecue in the adjacent
parking lot each August for National Night Out Against Crime. They have also been very involved in promoting the involvement of the Police Department in Special Olympics.
Volunteers receive no compensation for their service. A dinner and training session for the Volunteers, where they may invite spouses or others to join them, is scheduled annually as an educational and social event. Exemplary accomplishments are recognized and everyone generally gets some small token of their service. In 2008, for example, each Volunteer received a Holiday ornament with the Police Department logo engraved on it. While we have no specific budget for volunteers, many times an organization will sponsor the dinner and training. Chief Wortman says: “I would consider anything we spend on the volunteers to be the best public relations money I can spend.”
National Night Out, the cooks and servers are ready for the crowds
Staffing the Police Booth at the Rockaway Beach Centennial Celebration, July 2009