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VIPs seek more members to back up sheriff's officers

The 69 members of the Volunteers in Partnership have been working alongside the Sheriff's Office since 1995. Their goal is to aid local police by volunteering for different assignments.

Director Dale Coerver has been working with the VIPs for more than 11 years. Like most members of the organization, he is a retired officer.

“I had been following the sheriff's department and that they were pretty state of the art,” he said.
The program got its start after Bob Noble, a retired officer from Connecticut, wanted to continue his work as a volunteer after moving to Hendersonville. He was the department’s very first VIP.
Each member is required to undergo a three-step certification program for their duties.
“The first step required by the state is that you have to attend a class given by a sworn officer,” Coerver said. “Then we do strength training, shadow someone on the street. We also give you training in the car.”
Assignments include security at the judicial and historic courthouses, traffic control, funeral escorts and patrol.
There are also different assignments for varying physical needs, as the ages range from members in their 40s to 94 years old.
Hale Meserow and his wife have been members of the VIPs since 2016. He said the work makes for “very productive retirement activity, mentally and physically.”
Meserow leads the volunteers working in traffic control. He explained the role VIPs can play in the community by covering large events, such as foot races
“You're a runner, and you're halfway through your race, and your focus is right there,” he said. “You don't care about drivers, but you got to get across that intersection.”
The VIPs receive only donations for their services, and the law requires these funds must be used for the benefit of the program. Last year, the VIPs generated around $600,000 in value from 17,000 hours of volunteering.
“We use those donations to buy equipment, like radios, which means the taxpayers don't have to pay for it,” Coerver said.
The VIPs are looking to expand their workforce due to increases in volunteer opportunities. The rise in demand is largely due to cutbacks from Covid-19 in 2020.
“I like to tell our story, and I think we have a very good story to tell,” Coerver said. “We’re always looking for new people.”