September 1, 2011 in Washington Voices

COPS Mission Avenue serves from campus

By The Spokesman-Review
Pia Hallenberg photo

Volunteers Lloyd Apitz and Judy Willard are seen at COPS Mission Avenue, located on the Spokane Community College campus.
(Full-size photo)

Fast facts

COPS Mission Avenue

Where: On the campus of Spokane Community College, 1810 N. Greene St., Building 1, Room 149.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the school year. In the summer the shop closes at noon on Fridays.

Volunteers: Five

Most frequent inquiries: How to deal with drug houses and abandoned cars.

Wish list: To bring back Block Watch or Business Watch.

Biggest need: Volunteers, lots of them.

Phone: (509) 625-3301

COPS Mission Avenue is located on Spokane Community College’s campus. SCC has its own security staff so COPS Mission Avenue is not that involved with campus life, except when a student volunteer signs up.

“We serve the neighborhood around us, off campus,” said Lloyd Apitz, who’s been a COPS volunteer for about seven years. “We just started a neighborhood patrol.”

The neighborhood is a mix of industrial, apartment and single-family home areas, and Apitz said it’s really difficult to get people involved.

“It would be so nice to see some Block Watch or Business Watch programs get started,” Apitz said. “It’s difficult just to get people into the shop.”

This is perhaps the COPS shop with the smallest number of volunteers.

Students from SCC’s criminal justice program occasionally sign up to volunteer, but it’s rare.

“I think we’ve had four student volunteers in the time I’ve been here,” Apitz said.

He began as a COPS volunteer at the old downtown COPS shop on West First Avenue.

“I’m retired, and this keeps my mind going so it doesn’t go completely blank on me,” Apitz said, laughing.

His favorite part of the job is simply working at the desk, answering the phone and questions from people who walk in.

Judy Willard is another volunteer at COPS Mission Avenue. She came to the shop through AARP’s job skills program for seniors.

“I’m computer illiterate,” she said, shyly, “but I’m learning more and more every day. I like it here. They are good people to work for.”

Apitz also likes doing a ride-along with Spokane Police officers.

“That’s something else,” he said. “When you come flying down Division going 60 miles an hour and have the lights flashing and people won’t move out of the way. The officers are a riot.”

Apitz said he’s looking forward to a seminar on latent fingerprints that’s coming up soon.

The seminar will enable COPS volunteers to lift fingerprints from vehicles and get them into SPD’s system. COPS volunteers did this until 2002 when the program was discontinued.

It’s quiet on campus in the summer, but soon students and faculty return for a new school year bringing back the hustle and bustle – and perhaps a new volunteer or two?

“We need volunteers. We really need volunteers,” said Apitz.

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