WOODSTOCK – Six McHenry County residents graduated Thursday evening from the sheriff’s office volunteer program, a group that continues to grow in size and responsibility.
The volunteer program, started and implemented by Sheriff Bill Prim last year, follows the successful completion of the Citizen’s Police Academy – held in the fall – that the sheriff’s office already has in place.
Each volunteer who applied and was accepted into the volunteer program completed nearly 40 hours of additional training in the spring for the Volunteer Academy, learning all aspects of the sheriff’s office operations.
Volunteers are nonsworn members of the office, do not carry a badge or service weapon and do not have enforcement capabilities. The group assists sworn and nonsworn members of the office in various functions, including special event support, traffic control, community relations and crime prevention. Funding for the program comes from asset forfeitures and criminal seizures.
This year’s graduates are Kasey Cacciottolo, Marvin Dahl, Daniel Garcia, Hamilton “Tip” Hale, Lorie Hendrickson and Marcia Pearson.
Pearson, of McHenry, said she has always had an interest in law enforcement and found it to be the right opportunity for her. She said her favorite part was learning about traffic control and learning more about the police cars.
Prim’s son, Hank Prim, served as the volunteer coordinator for the program for the past two years. McHenry County Sheriff K-9 officer Sgt. Dan Patenaude will resume Hank Prim’s responsibilities moving forward.
Hank Prim said the goal for the first year of the program was to get it up and running. Now that it’s reached its second year, Prim said the program will become more of a support role for sheriff’s deputies and other sheriff’s office employees.
“We’re teaching mindset, and we’re also teaching practical skills,” he said.
The program was designed to create a partnership with members of the McHenry County community, improving transparency within the sheriff’s office while also supplementing the office’s community policing services.
“I really believe the biggest asset our county has is its citizens,” Sheriff Bill Prim said to the participants. “While we’re teaching you, we’re learning.”
Prim said initially there was some hesitancy and uncertainty from others when he talked about starting the program because it had never been done before, but he believes it has been well worth it thus far.
Last year, four graduated from the volunteer program. The next big events volunteers will assist with include the McHenry County Fair, National Night Out and the Wonder Lake parade.
For information on becoming a volunteer, call the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office at 815-338-2144.