Volunteers A huge help for Vail police | VailDaily.com

Volunteers A huge help for Vail police

Steve LynnVail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyVail police volunteer Paul Kuzniar tries to find East Vail residents Thursday during a neighborhood barbecue in East Vail. Kuzniar and other volunteers passed out placards that will allow them to get home if Interstate 70 closes.

VAIL, Colorado Paul Kuzniar walked inside a building in Edwards with his wife, Barbara Jean, as she carried a fake bomb in a shopping bag to help train Vail Police. Jean put the bag between her legs, and Kuzniar put his arm around her as a group of women nearby laughed. Vail Police officers thought those women were the ones who had a bomb.Kuzniar and Mason, who work with Vail Volunteers in Police Service, were one of several volunteers who helped to train police on how to spot terrorists carrying bombs into bus terminals. Volunteers who carried bombs were told to act nervous and fidgety during the training funded by the Department of Homeland Security to help police recognize behavior of bombers.If the police didnt have volunteers to do this, I dont know who would do it or how it would get done, said Kuzniar, a part-time Vail resident. Police volunteers help out with such training, and help control crowds during special events such as Vails Fourth of July parade. They do maintenance work at a battered womens shelter, work in polices lost-and-found, run police auctions, help police pay the departments bills and do other tasks. The same volunteer program exists at police departments throughout the country. Were not the lynch-pin of the community, but these things have to be done, Kuzniar said.

An assignment to help Vail Police begins with an e-mail from Gilda Kaplan, the programs coordinator.Kaplan, a retired Vail resident, does more now in volunteer work than she ever did when she was in marketing and sales for Delta Airlines. I put in as much as it needs to get the job done, said Kaplan, whose husband, Werner Kaplan, also volunteers in the program. But she doesnt work the hardest: One police volunteer catalogues digital crime scene photos four days each week at the police department, Kaplan said. Kaplan planned Thursday to help pass out cards to East Vail residents at Bighorn Park. Those cards will let residents avoid frontage road traffic when Vail Pass is closed. She deserves a lot of credit for the time she puts in to make different functions function properly in conjunction with the Vail Police Department, said Paul Caldwell, a volunteer.Caldwell, also retired, volunteers with his wife, Sue Mason. Like other volunteers, Caldwell started because he knew Kaplan, not because he had a particular interest in police-work. Still, he woke up early, arriving at the police department at 8:30 a.m. July 4th, to help police with crowd control during the parade. I had some time, and I felt it was contributing something to the community, he said.

Vail VIPS, as theyre called, help with ski and snowboard registration, a program that has gotten lost or stolen skis and snowboards returned to owners and that has also helped thwart theft, said Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger. Theyre a huge help and make us be able to provide a lot more services, Henninger said. Kuzniar feels good about helping the police so that they dont have to do menial yet important jobs. Kuzniar, for example, kept kids from running into the streets to gather leftover candy thrown to them during Vails July 4th parade. An officers job is not controlling kids running in front of a fire engine, he said. Once Kuzniar saw a few men drinking as they drove into a parking garage where police had stationed him to look for trouble one New Years Eve. Thats a no-no right off the bat, Kuzniar said.Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 970-748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.

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