When Carl and Joy Thielen retired and moved to Fernley, they wanted to do something productive for the community as well as keep active.
The V.I.P. program (Volunteers In Policing) offered the opportunity for both of them to be involved in an interesting and worthwhile post-retirement vocation.
Joy currently is the coordinator of the Lyon County program in which she performs clerical functions and oversees the roster of volunteers. Carl sets up the radar-equipped V.I.P. patrol car at local school zones to monitor and report speeders in the restricted area during the times children are going to and from school grounds.
"We clock their speed, but can't stop them. We turn on the lights if they don't slow down. We record their speed and report it to the sheriff who then sends them a letter," Carl said.
"Lots of parents are thankful that they're (V.I.P.) out there," Joy said.
"We went through the academy in January of '04. It covers a multitude of things that we are authorized to do. We learned to dispatch, learned the codes and jail procedures. There is intensive training in stationary radar. We can clock the speed, but we are not authorized to stop or apprehend someone," Joy explained.
Some of the jobs that VIPs perform are: working with the Child Find Program (fingerprinting and photographing children), assisting with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) and Gang Resistance Education Awareness Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.), updating business emergency phone numbers on a quarterly basis, assisting with general clerical, jail and substation duties, radar surveillance, serving civil/court documents and interviewing potential new volunteers.
As with many volunteer organizations, potential recruits are always needed. Not all volunteers are required to go through the academy to serve. There are jobs people can do without attending the six-to-seven-week training.
"We work at parades, traffic control, funerals, in the office and in the patrol car. The official vehicle is used to set up radar and patrol for graffiti and perform other patrols at night," Joy said. "It relieves the deputies to do the more serious work. We can't be in harm's way."
Lyon County currently has 42 Volunteers In Policing that work rotating positions under Lt. Jim Cupp of the Lyon County Sheriff's Department, who supervises from the Dayton office. The Thielens help out in Fernley, Silver Springs and Dayton and Yerington when they are called upon.
"We patrol from one end of this county to the other," Carl said.