Sheriff’s office opens volunteer policing station at Fairchild
March 10, 2023 Updated Fri., March 10, 2023 at 10:08 p.m.
Using a knife to saw through yellow police tape, Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels opened a Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Effort (SCOPE) station Friday at Fairchild Air Force Base.
“I don’t know that 50 years ago it would have ever been a consideration to bring a civilian volunteer organization onto a military installation to help with crime and disorder on base and in the communities immediately surrounding it,” Nowels said. “But I think we’ve proven over the years that it’s an effective strategy.”
SCOPE volunteers assist the sheriff’s office by patrolling neighborhoods, conducting traffic control and lifting fingerprints from prowled vehicles, among a host of other duties. SCOPE stations are also places where people can get law enforcement-related resources.
The Central Valley SCOPE station recently relocated to the Spokane Valley Mall to encourage more walk-in traffic and accessibility to the public, the sheriff’s office said. Its grand opening was Tuesday.
The Fairchild station is the 14th SCOPE station in the county.
“We are also excited about this partnership because one of the jobs that I take very seriously is keeping our airmen and families safe,” said Col. Chesley Dycus, commander of the 92d Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild.
SCOPE volunteers will partner with Fairchild Security Forces to combat crime at the base and in the surrounding towns like Airway Heights. The SCOPE office actually opened at the Air Force base in 2007, but military deployments and COVID-19 greatly reduced volunteer staffing levels.
“We’re so happy to be back out here, be re-energized and continuing to grow the SCOPE station here,” SCOPE Director Chris Conway said.
Conway said the SCOPE Incidence Response Team and Neighborhood Watch are two programs on which she will focus at the Fairchild station. The response team is made up of on-call volunteers who can block roads and control traffic at car wrecks, fires and other scenes, freeing up deputies to respond to calls or investigate the scenes, she said.
Conway said she hopes to attract as many volunteers as possible to the Fairchild SCOPE station. She said there are more than 240 SCOPE volunteers, which Nowels said is down from around 700 when he joined the sheriff’s office 25 years ago.
“The more the merrier,” Conway said. “The more we can have, the more we can do on base and outside of the base fences.”
The SCOPE office is located inside one of Fairchild’s buildings.
“I am really excited to continue this partnership, reinvigorate it and see how we in the sheriff’s office, we as SCOPE volunteers, can help be a better part of your community here on base and in the Airway Heights area,” Nowels said.
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