Palo Alto, CA – After a decade-long hiatus, the Department is pleased to announce that we have brought back a patrol Community Service Officer program to enhance service to our community.
The team consists of two non-sworn Community Service Officers (CSOs) who respond to a wide variety of non-emergency calls. These calls include various theft and burglary reports, vandalisms, non-injury traffic collisions, abandoned vehicles, noise complaints, and parking violations. They are trained to collect evidence and conduct traffic control. They also assist sworn officers with community presentations, neighborhood outreach, and maintaining a high-visibility presence around our schools. The Department is launching this program on a one-year trial basis to allow us time to evaluate its effectiveness.
By implementing the patrol CSO program, we are able to free up our sworn police officers to focus on calls that involve an emergency response, crimes that have suspect information that may ultimately necessitate an arrest, traffic enforcement duties, and proactive policing.
The patrol CSOs hit the streets in January after an intensive in-house training program that lasted several weeks. They drive Chevrolet Caprice sedans that are distinguishable from regular police patrol cars by being clearly marked with an all-new “Community Service Officer” livery. Their cars are also equipped with amber light bars, rather than the traditional red-and-blue light bar of a patrol car operated by a sworn police officer. The patrol CSOs wear a powder blue uniform shirt, as compared to the traditional dark navy blue of a sworn police officer. They are not armed, do not have arrest authority, and are not able to conduct traffic stops. The patrol CSOs work day shift hours Monday through Friday. A photograph of the patrol CSOs with their vehicles is attached to this release.
The Department operated a patrol CSO program from 1998 through 2008. The program ended in 2008 due to budget cuts. Currently, the Department employs eight full-time Community Service Officers, and merely re-assigned two of those eight into this new program. Implementing the program did not require adding any new positions to the Department. Both patrol CSOs are veteran members of the Palo Alto Police Department, and in fact one of them worked as one of our patrol CSOs during the first iteration of the program. The remaining six CSOs continue to enforce parking regulations full-time throughout the City, and also assist with traffic control as needed.