Police volunteers at your service

Instead of basking in their golden years, six longtime Glendale residents decided to take on a new job — volunteer patrollers for the Police Department.

On Wednesday, the group became the latest members of the department's Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol program, known as RSVP.

Before being certified, they were trained in police radio communication, city streets, equipment, patrol operations, and the basics of narcotics and gangs.

The volunteer service is especially critical amid budget pressures brought on by the protracted recession, Police Chief Ron De Pompa said.

"The one lifeline that we have had is the great support from the community, especially in terms of their volunteer hours to help us keep this community safe," he said.

Forty-five senior volunteers have dedicated more than 10,000 hours to the police department, program coordinator Alma Bullock said, saving the city $236,183.

"Volunteers in the program and in any organization are an intricate part and, in today's economy, more so," Bullock said. "Here they are valued and respected by everybody."

And all of them had their own reasons for joining.

Vartan Hovnanian

The longtime Glendale resident joined the RSVP program to help put an end to pedestrian traffic collisions.

Misak Ranjbar, 80, who was killed Sept. 15 while crossing Columbus and California avenues, was a childhood friend. Hovnanian, 56, said he knew Ranjbar for roughly 45 years.

"We are trying as much as we can to help in this pedestrian safety program," he said.

Hovnanian, who emigrated from Iran in 1985 to the U.S., is hoping to reach out to fellow Armenians on traffic safety issues.

"I noticed a lot of Armenians are getting killed in pedestrian walks," he said. "Now, I am going to Glendale parks and churches to educate them so we can bring down the number of persons who get killed."

Hovnanian said he will continue to operate his Glendale-based insurance company.

During the evenings, Hovnanian helps deliver medical supplies to homebound patients.

Roland Roesch

The 82-year-old sales executive has worked most of his life and isn't planning to stop anytime soon.

"You just keep going," he said.

While juggling his volunteer duties for police and the Glendale Fire Department, Roesch will continue to operate Roland Consulting. He also works for a New York-based company.

"He has one fault," De Pompa said. "Roland must be watched closely because he keeps threatening to drive a police car down Glendale Avenue with the lights and sirens activated."

As a young man, Roesch began working alongside his father to help build their company, Douglas Roesch Inc. The company sold missile cables to aircraft companies.

But in 1951, he was drafted into the Army, where he traveled around the world and later married his wife, Ann.

He returned home, where his father's company had grown dramatically and was eventually sold.

But he and a friend bought the company's security and sound division and earned various contracts, including one for the 1984 Olympics.

Roesch's dedication to public safety, both in business and volunteerism, is second nature to him, he said.

"It's interesting," he said. "There is something new every day."

Jack Sutz

In 1977, the Brooklyn native moved to Southern California, where he ran a women's clothing manufacturing company for 12 years.

Sutz switched careers, working as a health-care provider until retiring in 2003.

While the 69-year-old hung up his duties in the health-care field, his dedication to helping others stayed with him.

He has volunteered throughout the community, including the Glendale Adventist Medical Center and Verdugo Hills Hospital.

Now, Sutz has joined the ranks of the Glendale Police Department.

Boris Stoikoff

The 79-year-old Glendale resident is all too familiar with a life in public safety.

At 19, Stoikoff, a native of Bulgaria, escaped a communist regime to a refugee camp in Greece.

Then the U.S. Embassy in Athens offered him a job with a federal investigative agency.

While working as a federal agent, he was shot and wounded.

The injury ultimately ended his career with the agency, but he met his wife Erma, who had been a police officer in New Zealand and Canada.

One of the couple's five children also got the law enforcement bug. Their daughter, Catherine Massey, works as a police officer for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Stoikoff's wife has already submitted an application to join him in the RSVP program.

Stoikoff, an active member of the Glendale Lions Club for 30 years, has been fundraising for eye surgeries for low-income clients.

"Naturally, I like to help, so this seems to be the only way I can get out and do something," he said.

Still, his daughter said she was somewhat anxious when her father decided to become a police volunteer.

"I was a bit worried that he thought he was going to do what a police officer does," Massey said.

De Pompa said Stoikoff signs his e-mails "Boris, 1/2 cop."

Richard and Shirley Rogers

After more than 50 years of marriage, Richard and Shirley Rogers surprised their loved ones when they signed up to volunteer with the department.

The Rogerses, who are both 73, attended the same elementary and junior high schools. At Eagle Rock High, they became high school sweethearts and married in 1956 upon graduation.

As newly initiated volunteers, Richard and Shirley work as a team in the field, and remain optimistic about the assignment.

"We've been married for 54 years, so I think we're gonna make it," Shirley Rogers said.

The Rogerses, who live near the Los Angeles-Glendale boundary, said their volunteer work has greatly changed their outlook on the area.

"When we drive around Glendale on our own, we're more aware of what's going on, and when we're looking out and see somebody who needs some help, we're more apt to step up and help," Shirley Rogers said.

Her husband admitted that training for the position wasn't easy.

"That is the first thing that our training officer told us. 'You're going to be overwhelmed,'" he said.

On Black Friday, the Rogerses spent nearly six hours on foot surveying the Americana at Brand, keeping their eyes peeled and answering any questions from shoppers who stopped them.

Their grandson, Glendale Police Officer Jeff Davis, confessed he had a harder time picturing his grandma pursuing the work than his grandpa.

"It's invigorated our relationship," Davis said. "They can relate to what I see on a personal level."

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