Police bring back Community Service Officers

The Palo Alto Police Department's new community service officer cars.

The Palo Alto Police Department has brought Community Service Officers, or CSOs, who patrol the streets in police cars, back to its team after the positions were dropped during budget cuts more than 10 years ago.

The officers are not armed or sworn into the department and cannot make traffic stops or arrest individuals, but are trained to control traffic, maintain a presence at schools and respond to non-emergency reports.

They will also make community presentations with officers, conduct neighborhood outreach and collect evidence in cases.

The officers went through a training program for several weeks and police will oversee the program for one year to test its effectiveness.

The patrol CSOs can be distinguished from sworn police officers by their light blue uniforms, compared to dark blue, amber flashing lights instead of red and blue and clearly marked CSO patrol cars. They will only work during business hours.

Patrol CSOs had been a part of the department for 10 years when budget cuts hit police in 2008. Currently, eight full-time officers are employed as regular CSOs, who regulate traffic and parking, and the department reassigned two of these veteran officers to be patrol CSOs.

One of the new patrol officers also worked in the initial program, according to police, who hope the re-launched program will allow room for more proactive policing and community trust-building.

— Bay City News

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