The Tustin Police Department honored its dedicated crew of volunteers with a banquet at Zov’s Bistro in Tustin. Due to the Covid-10 pandemic, this is the first time they have been able to award their volunteers since 2019.
After loosening up the crowd with some jokes, Deputy Police Chief Robert Wright got to the serious reason for the gathering. “We don’t say thank you enough, but we should say it on a daily basis,” he said. “You guys are something special.”
Volunteers play a critical role in keeping the gears moving, particularly administratively, so officers can spend more time on the streets and engage in proactive policing.
Despite the department having to curtail many activities during the pandemic, Wright said volunteers still contributed 6,285 hours between 2019 and 2021.
At the banquet, 11 volunteers were honored for their work with lapel pins, appreciation bags and flower centerpieces.
Two former volunteers, one who passed away in the past year, were remembered with plaques. Kathy Leger had been a volunteer for 20 years with more than 3,600 volunteer hours. Her husband, Ray, also a volunteer, said his wife remained committed to the department to the end. Even when she was in the hospital, Ray said Kathy would request he bring her some type of work from the department, so she could help from home.
Former volunteer Richard Ruedas, who volunteered for 10 years and a total of 16,579 hours, was described as the “Energizer bunny” of volunteers by Lt. Ryan Coe who is the head of the Community Resources Unit which oversees much of the volunteer work. Before deciding to follow other interests, Ruelas worked in fleet services, ensuring that police vehicles were properly cleaned and stocked.
Marilyn Hogan, who amassed more than 10,800 hours over 14 years, became a volunteer after she was offered early retirement at the Orange County Register. “I always wanted to know more about what police did,” she said. During her tenure with the Tustin Police Department, Hogan did secretarial work for several chiefs and command staff, worked in general investigations, worked with the gang unit, and processed DUI reports. “I like being part of the action,” she said.
Lately, Hogan has been doing election volunteer work with the Orange County Registrar of Voters and helped during the county’s COVID-19 vaccine program. However, she said she hopes to return to volunteering with the Tustin Police Department soon.
In the Gayer family, volunteering is a family affair. Jean Gayer has more than 3,900 volunteer hours over 12 years. A retired elementary school teacher, she began volunteering after she and her husband, Dick, a former Marine aviator, moved from Lancaster to be closer to their grandchildren.
When she started thinking about volunteer opportunities, Coe, her son-in-law, said, “Come work here.” Dick Gayer volunteers with the California Highway Patrol. “This is something that has to be done so it’s wonderful to go in and help out,” Jean Gayer said.
The volunteers are residents who have completed the Citizen’s Police Academy, where they have been trained in a variety of duties, including responsibilities such as maintaining records, data entry, and field work such as reporting graffiti, abandoned vehicles, crowd control, and attending community events.
The other honorees recognized for their service were:
- Ray Leger, 20 years, 8,700 hours
- Mandy Krisman, 5 years, 289 hours
- Howard Lemberge, 6 years, 900 hours
- Wendy Meyers, 10 years, 2,000 hours
- Karen Scola, 5 years, 500 hours
- Robert Tischler, 2 years, 100 hours
- Rick Yurasko, 7 years, 1,600 hours
At the conclusion of the event, PSO Jennifer Jones read a quote posted in the volunteer offices: “The heart of a volunteer is not measured by the size of their heart, but by the depth of commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.”