Mayor Duane Schuster knows the bottom line.
“The city can barely afford the services it now has,” Schuster said. “It certainly couldn’t afford to hire more police officers to do the things that SCORE does.”
SCORE stands for Senior Citizens Organizing Reciprocal Efforts. The group of men and women 55 or older volunteers to help the Police Department with office tasks such as clerical work and outdoor jobs such as checking on homes of residents who are on vacation.
SCORE workers also help with traffic and crowd control, security alarms and emergency services.
“We’re trained in first aid,” said Schuster, 65, a SCORE volunteer himself. “During my year as mayor, I couldn’t be very active in SCORE, but now that I’m leaving office, I’ll be getting back into it more.”
Launched in 1994, SCORE was the brainchild of Police Chief David S. Barr, whose department was being pinched by budget constraints.
“The city was expecting the Police Department to do more and more with less and less,” Barr said. “And we had a cadre of folks in our senior citizens club that we could ask to help us.”
Barr said SCORE proved to be a quick success, both for police and for the volunteers. Police benefit by being freed from some routine chores, Barr said, and the senior volunteers like being on the city’s law-enforcement team.
SCORE volunteers wear uniforms and staff a car patrol Mondays through Fridays. They do not make arrests but do notify police by car radio of suspicious activity. “They provide us with extra eyes and ears in the city,” Barr said.
The organization continues to accept volunteers. “The qualifications are that the person be 55 or older and in good health,” Barr said.
Applications for SCORE are available at police headquarters, 7792 Walker St.