GLYNN COUNTY, Fla. – The Brunswick Police Department (BPD) has reopened applications for its Citizen Observer Program amid a shortage of police officers.
The program allows qualified citizens to work with police to help patrol and monitor crime in the community. The last time applications were open for COP was before the pandemic.
The program was originally launched around 25 years ago but now is the first time since 2020 that the Citizens Observers Program is actively recruiting residents.
Angela Smith, Assistant Chief of Administration with the Brunswick Police Department, said she is hoping to recruit at least 15 people to help with the department’s shortage of police officers. The BPD started off the year down 33 officers, and that number hasn’t changed.
“Officers are working overtime,” Smith said. “We have part-time officers that come in and they work different shifts and assist us.”
The department is authorized for 72 officers on duty, but there are currently only 39. Smith said there are not enough qualified candidates interested in joining the BPD.
“You have a lot of people wanting to apply but not everyone is a good fit for every department and every community,” Smith said. “Sometimes people have things in their background that just don’t allow them to be a law enforcement officer.”
Eligible citizens will patrol the neighborhood, monitor traffic, and keep a lookout for suspicious activity in marked cars, taking the load off current officers.
Eric Jimenez joined the Citizen Observer Program eight years ago and actively serves the community.
“We pretty much cover the city because that’s what patrol can do,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez and other COP members do not carry weapons and try to stay clear of danger. If there is a threat, they report to officers immediately through radio.
“Once in a while somebody will flag us down with a problem and because we have a radio, we can contact dispatch and they’ll send down a patrol officer,” Jimenez said. “We’ll explain to them what we know, and they’ll take over.”
To join the citizen observer program you have to go to the Brunswick Police Department and fill out an application. Once you fill out the application, you have to pass a series of background checks — including a psychological evaluation to join.
To apply for the program, you must be at least 18 years old. Smith said their goal is to eventually recruit qualified candidates who excel in the program to join the Brunswick Police Department.