It was the beginning of “Van” Van Vught’s second retirement when he turned in his VIPS’ badge Tuesday after serving in the volunteer police organization for nearly 20 years in support of the officers on the street in Ripon.
Van first retired from his day job at Libby Owens Ford glass plant in Lathrop after 30 years of service before enlisting in the recently formed police organization in 1995 in its second year of operation. He had to take classes and be on probation for a six month period of time.
He recalled when he started VIPS was more closely connected with the fewer officers on the street than they are today. The VIPS Technical Reserve organization has continued to volunteer more than 400 hours per month. As part of the VIPS program, an operational manual was developed to provide training, policies and procedures.
Van Vught – also known for his entertaining one-man-band, has spent his days with VIPS driving to the court and district attorney’s office with case paperwork in addition to directing traffic in the community around traffic accidents and traffic control during the Almond Blossom Festival.
He was also involved in Crime Prevention Patrol, Senior Citizen Liaison, Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch, Vacation checks, and Parking Enforcement.
He remembers vividly one night when he and his partner were assigned to closing off part of Milgeo Avenue after a storm had knocked down a power line that strung across yards and over the roadway.
One elderly driver questioned why he couldn’t drive to his home, wanting to know why they had the road blocked off. Van said when he finally seemed to understand he couldn’t drive down the street he took the second best route – the front lawns of the nearby residences. Van said they stopped him and suggested a detour route that wouldn’t tear up the lawns in the neighborhood.
Van Vught was involved in the building of the Special Services Command Post that police use at the scene of a crime where investigation is going to take a serious amount of time.
The police department has used his musical talents for past events including Main Street Days and the annual National Night Out where his One-Man-Band was an instant success as residents gathered around to hear him play.
Now, he is involved in teaching accordion to residents of Bethany Home and planning trips with his wife. He was named a lifetime member of VIPS.
Van lauded the leaders of his volunteer squad for making it so effective including Linda Johnston, Lt. Rich Searcy, Jim Harris, Don Rudolph, and Connie Goddard