HOBART | Keith Patterson works his part-time Civil Defense job for the city because he likes helping people, he said.
"I have put in 11 years. This job means a lot to me," Patterson said.
However, Civil Defense employees recently were told to hand in their uniforms and advised they wouldn't be issued cars or equipment while on the job.
Instead of the informs, the employees were told they are to wear shorts or blue jeans and T-shirts on the job, Patterson said.
"We've gone from helping people out to being a nuisance," he said. "I'm just wondering why the position I've held has gotten diminished like this."
Police Chief Jeff White said the issue is that he can't legally put untrained Civil Defense workers in any type of squad cars, which has been done in the past.
"And we're not budgeted to replace uniforms, equipment and radios," White said.
Although he recognizes the "wonderful" service Civil Defense staff has done for the city, it may be time to phase out the program, White said.
"They've served the community, but times have changed and now we're more worried about terrorists than about any threats from the Soviet Union," White said.
Patterson said he spoke to Mayor Brian Snedecor on Friday about the Civil Defense employees' concerns and hopes to meet with Snedecor on Monday.
Snedecor said he will meet with department supervisors related to the program with an intent to work things out.
"Keith has done a good job," Snedecor said.
Despite some of the issues, Patterson said he and at least two of the other workers would like to keep their part-time positions.
"Three of us would like to get back if they'd take us. One of the guys is on the fence. We want to work out something so we're all on the same page," Patterson said.
Their jobs, for which employees are paid a little more than $7 an hour, include closing down parks and working crowd control at festivals and football games.
It's all about helping those in the community, Patterson said, but in return he'd like city officials and members of the public to show Civil Defense workers respect for what they do.
"We're not wannabes. None of us want to get into the police reserves. We just offer extra eyes when needed or help in finding an elderly person or child," Patterson said.