CEDAR LAKE | High school seniors and graduates are now welcome in the Cedar Lake Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program.
The Cedar Lake Town Council has approved a police commission resolution lowering the age of prospective volunteers from 21 to 18.
The change opens up new opportunities for the police department and area teens, Police Chief Jerry Smith said. VIPS membership has been dwindling, and the department hopes that by lowering age requirements it will be able to attract teens interested in a career in law enforcement.
Some concerns had been raised, namely a possible increase in liability by allowing teens to join, Smith said. However, the training is rigorous enough that those not committed to the program are unlikely to last, he said.
VIPS members assist Cedar Lake police officers and must commit to serving a minimum of eight hours a month after they complete basic training. Overall VIPS duties include traffic control and extra patrol.
The program has three specialty units: Patrol, Bicycle Unit and Emergency Response. VIPS members who are not in one of the specialty units help officers with traffic control and security at special events.
The VIPS basic training program covers police radio procedures, traffic control, water rescue and the National Incident Management System.
The next step is advanced training, which consists of CPR, town geography and patrol procedures. Once both segments of training have been completed, VIPS members become eligible for a specialty unit.
VIPS applications are available at the Cedar Lake Police Department, located at the Town Complex, 7408 Constitution Ave. Applications may be picked up 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, call (219) 374-5416.