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Ripon Police, citizens benefit from VIPS

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Ripon Police, citizens benefit from VIPS

From left, Rich Searcy, Bea Azevedo, Hubert van Vugt and Don Rudolph are among the 20 volunteers helping out the Ripon Police Department on a regular basis.


POSTED January 28, 2012 1:36 a.m.

RIPON — Bea Azevedo finds it hard to say no to the Ripon Volunteers in Police Services.

So much so that the long-time Ripon resident logged 386 hours just this past year, assisting the Ripon Police Department in various duties.

Included was helping out with animal control and making court DA runs to Stockton and Manteca.

“She’s above average (in volunteering her services),” said colleague Rich Searcy, who provides his organizational skills to VIPS.

“Bea’s our reliable standby – we know we can call her at the last minute to help out,” he added.

Azevedo responded, saying: “I hate to refuse.”

She’s been involved with VIPS for the past seven years. Once upon a time, she was employed at Blue Diamond. After 26 years, Azevedo retired to attend to her ailing husband.

She first heard of the VIPS when officers talked about the volunteer program at her senior housing complex.

“I was very interested,” said Azevedo, who wanted to do her part to give back to the community.

As part of VIPS, she and the other 20 volunteers do just that.

They assist police with traffic control, crime scene containment, DUI check points, vacation checks, fingerprinting, animal services, and clerical support, to name a few.

“In the past year, we saved the city about 6,300 work hours,” said Searcy, who moved to Ripon from Fremont in 2004.

He retired from construction. “I didn’t play golf but, being new to Ripon, I wanted to find something to do in order to get to know people,” said Searcy, who has been with VIPS for the past seven years.

VIPS was started in 1993, relying on community members to serve as volunteers. They were asked to put in eight hours per month.

Don Rudolph, who also serves as vice president for VIPS – Larry Kearns is the president – and Hubert van Vugt are longtime volunteers. Rudolph has been with VIPS for 14 years and van Vugt has 17 years experience. The latter also stays busy with his side business.

On this day, the two VIPS doubled up, taking out one of the cars to patrol the city streets.

“It was an easy day,” said van Vugt. “We even had time to take a 15-minute break for a quick cup of coffee.”

But that’s not always the case. VIPS does plenty, especially during community-wide events such as the Almond Festival, National Night Out, Main Street Days, the Ripon-Menlo Park Emergency Car Show, and Fourth of July.

VIPS also takes care of the vending machines servicing city employees and conducts a few fundraisers to bring money back to the program.

In addition, Searcy checks online with the other police agencies throughout the country.

“There was an officer down in Atlanta,” he said. “We sent over a (Ripon Police Department) card to show our concern.”

VIPS is open to anyone age 18 or older. Volunteers are always needed, Searcy said, who, if accepted, will receive training in various areas to help serve the community in a professional and effective manner.

All applicants are required to complete the written form, pass an oral review by the board, and allow for a background check.

For more information, contact Officer Scott Lindsay at

— Vince Rembulat
staff reporter

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