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SHARP volunteers address Manteca safety
City of Manteca Information and Technology Division GIS analyst Pennie Arounsack is flanked by SHARP volunteers MaryAnn Zornes, left, and Eva Kidwell as they hold a map with verified city residential addresses. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Call 9-1-1 for help and a very low tech issue could hamper emergency response - your address.

Or more precisely the problem could be a municipal data base that could have the wrong address for your home.

A number of reasons for such a mix-up in city maps run the gamut from old addresses not being copied correctly on newer maps to addresses not even being entered over the years. While the errors and omission are small compared to the overall number of addresses city leaders were concerned that it had the potential for creating a dangerous situation.

So city management turned to its Information and Technology Division that was created to not just keep everything from computer systems to phones operating properly but to put in place software management programs designed to help a leaner city staff work more efficiently.

The answer was to create a map data base with all addresses verified. It would be used by emergency personnel, public works, and even the private sector. But before the addresses could be fed into a digital map data base there was a need to verify parcels and addresses.

“It would have taken staff five to six months to do that with other work we have and it would have cost money to have a consultant do it,” noted Pennie Arounsack, a GIS analyst with the Information and Technology Division.

That’s when Police Captain Charles Goeken and the Manteca Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) entered the picture. Goeken oversees the SHARP unit.

Two SHARP volunteers stepped forward - MaryAnn Zornes and Eva Kidwell.

The two spent less than a month verifying 16,714 single family residential addresses that represents 70 percent of all 23,810 addresses in Manteca and 81 percent of all parcels. Future verification tasks will involve multi-family residential as well as commercial and industrial.

Kidwell noted in some cases it was difficult to see address numbers as they were hidden behind shrubbery.

“Emergency personnel have to be able to see the address number,” Kidwell said.

Likewise, simply painting your address on the curb isn’t effective as it can’t be seen if a vehicle is blocking it.

The two perform a wide variety of duties as SHARP members from helping in the office to directing traffic.

Zornes for years has served as the SHARP point person for calls to round up SHARP volunteers at a second’s notice day or night to help with traffic control at accidents or crime scenes.

It is a crucial function as it frees up officers to do the investigation work or to allow them to answer calls or patrol instead of directing traffic.

The police department counts more than 80 SHARP volunteers among their ranks and they’re looking for more. Volunteers help with a wide variety of tasks from traffic control at major incidents to helping abate abandoned vehicles, vacation checks, neighborhood and shopping center patrols to provide extra eyes, filing, doing traffic safety checks before as well as after school, running court documents, graffiti abatement, helping with special events and more.

Sometime next year SHARP will be asked to provide volunteers to help staff a seven-day police substation that will open in the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley lifestyle mall.

The presence of SHARP over the years has freed up sworn and other personnel to concentrate on other duties by taking over smaller tasks. For example, if a traffic accident or an incident will tie up officers for a long period of time, SHARP volunteers direct traffic so a police officer or community service officer isn’t tied up doing so. That in turn allows officers to handle other calls.

Vacation checks – a service where residents can request patrols to check out their homes while they are on vacation– wouldn’t be possible without SHARP. They also provide extra eyes on neighborhood and shopping center patrols during which time they’ll remove illegally posted signs off power poles.

SHARP gets credit for preventing graffiti from accumulating. They document the graffiti and then paint it over.

SHARP volunteers must be at least 40 years of age. It was formed in 1991 by former Police Chief Willie Weatherford and now provides more than 21,000 hours of servcie annually.

For more information call the Manteca Police Department at 456-8100 and ask for the services division.