NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Senior-Citizen Police

February 3, 2003

Senior citizens across the country are volunteering for police forces in record numbers, says the Senior Corps, a federal service program. The trend is particularly evident in Florida. They are aiming radar guns, taking fingerprints and watching for terrorists.

  • In Boynton Beach, Fla., for example, 1,537 seniors now volunteer, up 260 percent since 1998 -- and last year they put in 45,993 hours on the Citizen Observer patrol.
  • Their services free up regular officers for more crucial duties -- and officials there say they have become indispensable.
  • The senior volunteers, both male and female, say the activity is good for them and helps keep them alive.
  • They do not have arrest powers and only seldom carry a gun -- but they have been known to participate in successful sting operations against car thieves and other miscreants.

So police departments give them lessons in "verbal judo" -- assertive communication techniques seniors need to interact with belligerent citizens.

Their duties vary. Some drive around looking for wandering Alzheimer's patients, while others may focus on people who abuse handicapped parking spaces.

Source: Jeffrey Zaslow, "Boynton Beach Dotes on Its Big Contingent of 'Alte-Coppers,'" Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB1044224256973317504-search,00.html


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