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Substation move will increase office space, need for volunteers

New Colfax location will be in the former courthouse building
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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New volunteer opportunities will be open to Colfax area residents when the Placer County Sheriff’s Colfax Substation relocates this summer into expanded headquarters in the former courthouse building, located at the corner of Grass Valley and Culver streets.

In addition to providing larger space and more convenience for local deputies and the public, the new office will make it possible to provide better customer service, said Sgt. Ty Conners, substation commander.

“My goal … is to be more accessible to the public,” Conners said. “Right now, we have two volunteers who work in our office here at city hall. Their work is greatly appreciated, but they’re limited as to how much time they can volunteer. It limits the availability for the public to come to our front desk.” Better service will mean the public who visits the sheriff’s office will “see someone’s face, be able to talk to someone, instead of finding a locked door,” Conners said.

Current volunteers Cindy Schwarts and John Gagnon make it possible to staff the office from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. With more volunteers, Conners would like to have the office open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Schwarts, who said she had always wanted to be involved in law enforcement in some manner, said it’s important for her to volunteer, “to do something for my community and return something to the Sheriffs Department.” Now, she’s able to answer questions, sign off on mechanical corrections tickets, and take reports like fraud reports.

“I love doing it – love talking to deputies, people when they can come in,” Schwarts said.

Gagnon said he has three reasons for volunteering: “One, you’re giving something back to the community, which is the most important thing for me. Two, you get to work with some very interesting, nice people. Three, you get to find out what’s going on in town.”

In order to improve customer service by filling more positions, or to increase hours at the new office, Conners is recruiting volunteers for the new Colfax station.

“It’s a great opportunity for people interested in law enforcement, have free time” and want to learn about what goes on in the city, he said. Volunteers will be able to work the front desk, answer the telephone, take reports on certain crimes, do fingerprinting and work with deputies assigned to Colfax.

Potential volunteers must first attend the Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Academy before or within six months of an appointment to a station. The academy, Conners said, “is a really great opportunity for people to see how that sheriff’s office works, what it provides, its patrol and special team functions … and get better understanding of the sheriff’s office law enforcement field.”

To qualify as a volunteer, individuals must also  be 18 years of age or older, possess a valid California driver’s license or California identification card, and complete the application and interview process. Volunteers must undergo a thorough background investigation, which Conners said can take two to three months. Find out more about the volunteer program on the Placer County Sheriff’s website’s Community Services link at www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/Sheriff/CommSvcs.aspx, or call Deputy Victoria Skellenger at (916) 652-2425

And, Conners said, volunteers who get assigned to the Colfax substation prior to the move into the new location can actually help set up the office.