Any effort is worthy effort
In a perfect world, law enforcement agencies who use volunteers of any form, civilian, auxiliary, and/or sworn reserve officers, would have a dedicated full time coordinator assigned to this task, who in turn would have all year to plan effective ways to recognize and reward their volunteers. The truth of the matter is less than 20% of law enforcement agencies who utilize volunteers have a person dedicated to this position. In most cases, the position is an additional function assigned to a patrol officer or sergeant, often finding themselves multitasking with limited resources and budgets for their volunteers. For the majority of you who are in this position, I'd like to offer the following: anything you can do to express the appreciation of your agency towards your volunteers will be appreciated. While the above three examples I've shared with you are unique, well received, and memorable, in the end, doing nothing at all may stand out equally, but on the negative side. If all you can do this holiday season is send an e-mail or simple Christmas card to your volunteers expressing the heartfelt thanks of your agency for all their efforts throughout the year, then you've done the best you can. In most cases, your dedicated volunteers will appreciate the effort, as they know your time and resources are limited. And for those of you with access to your chief or sheriff, adding a quote from them to an group e-mail or their signature to a Christmas card along with yours is all the better. Remember the old saying, "it's the thought that counts."
As we close out the year, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of Officer.com readers who have taken time to read my monthly columns on the subject of law enforcement volunteers throughout 2006. It's truly an honor and privilege to share my thoughts and experiences with all of you and I appreciate the wonderful feedback I've received. And to my fellow volunteers throughout nation, all the members of law enforcement and of course the brave men and women serving in the military along with their families, thank you for what you do and I wish you all a very happy holiday season, Merry Christmas and safe upcoming New Year!