Christopher Watts sentenced to life in prison for deaths of pregnant wife, young daughters

DPD volunteers recognized with prestigious award

DENVER -- Volunteers have become a critical part of local police departments. The Denver Police Department has 270 active volunteers. Last year, they gave 27,000 hours and saved the department $636,000. They recently won the Leadership Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

"I think it’s an honor and shows really how great our volunteers are. Our volunteers are amazing. I always say I get to work with and see the best people in humanity every day. They give so much of themselves. It’s amazing to see them get the award," Program Administrator Marie Dabis said

The volunteers' work within the department varies.

"It ranges as much as the Denver police department ranges. We are in all 18 divisions of the department, volunteers do a lot of community outreach," Dabis said.

Volunteers have kiosks to answer questions on the 16th Street Mall, they run COP Shops in several communities and they help people fill out crime reports. "

"They’re not in uniform. They may have a badge that says they are volunteer, but that makes them more approachable to people. Kind of like a bridge between community and police department -- and help us better serve the community," technician Jay Casillas said.

Dabis said the group’s strength and what helped it win the Volunteer in Police Service Leadership Award is their ability to bring working professionals with expertise into different areas of the department.

“The department does their best, but we have paralegals come in and help civil liabilities, we have people with science backgrounds help in the crime lab, we have people with marketing experience help with our recruiting," Dabis said.

President George W. Bush started this effort after 9/11 to make communities stronger and safer. Dabis said volunteers believe they are rewarded every single day.

“One of the main things volunteers say when they start working around the police department is, 'I had no idea how kind and generous police officers are.' So volunteers usually end up giving more than they planned to because they are so inspired working alongside those police officers," she said.

If you are interested in volunteering, click here.