For the Carson City Sheriff's Department's new volunteer coordinator, Nevada law enforcement is old hat.
Tom Szupello, 56, a former officer with Reno Police Department, has taken the reins of Sheriff Kenny Furlong's volunteering program, in which a growing number of people are becoming more involved. At present, Szupello said 22 people volunteer within the department with dozens more taking Citizens' Law Enforcement Academies classes.
From organizing the academies to the opening of the Albertsons substation, Szupello's 20 hours a week are full of details.
Retiring after 22 years from the Reno PD in 2001 as a master sergeant, Szupello realized the couldn't shake his history.
"I just had to have my fingers in law enforcement," he said recently. "You can't shut it off."
He applied for a part-time position in the jail, but Lt. Ken Sandage said once staff looked at his application, they realized he was better suited to take the vacant position as volunteer coordinator.
Szupello said he had worked in the Reno department's community affairs program.
"I was familiar with how to get this thing up and going," he said.
On Wednesday, the substation at the Albertsons on Highway 50 East will open, staffed by eight volunteers for four hours a day. Szupello said no reports will be taken by them there; the substation will serve more of a community-outreach and resource-information purpose.
He aims by Oct. 8 to have uniformed Volunteer in Policing personnel patrolling in newly painted VIP trucks. The goal is to assume some time- consuming, non-emergency duties such as house watches, traffic control, abandoned vehicles and disabled-parking violations.
"That will take a little bit of the burden off the deputies so the (deputies) can do their jobs," Szupello said.
Szupello, who lives with his wife of 36 years, Lynne, in Washoe Valley, said he is impressed by the Carson City Sheriff's Department.
"The people here are very helpful. I wanted to see what it was like to work for a smaller department. So far, I've been pleasantly surprised," he said. "I'm glad that I came down here -- I'm humming through the halls."
As for the people willing to donate their time to the community, Szupello has nothing but praise.
"They're patriots," he said.
you can help
Visit the Carson City Sheriff's Department at 900 East Musser St. to pick up an application for the volunteer program and the Citizens' Academies or call 887-2020, ext. 1143, for more information.