V.O.I.C.E. and Lehigh Acres
V.O.I.C.E. stands for Volunteer Observer Impacting Community the effort began in 1988 when the Lee County Sheriff’s Office needed additional deputies but did not have the budget to hire them.
According Lieutenant Odilia “Dede” Petracca the Ancillary Services Unit Commander, currently we have 170 members in the unit in lee County and last year we saved the citizens of Lee County 1.2 million dollars by volunteering over 55,000 hours.
“We couldn’t do our jobs without them,” said Petracca,”These guys are out at 6 a.m. and work all day for free. They want to be here. It gives me motivation.”
V.O.I.C.E. is comprised of concerned citizens who care about their community and are dedicated to helping the Sheriff’s Office provide a higher level of service to its citizens and visitors. Initially, the primary function of the volunteers was neighborhood patrol, but over the years those responsibilities have greatly expanded. V.O.I.C.E. members continue to patrol as extra eyes and ears in the neighborhoods enabling certified law enforcement deputies to respond to the more serious calls for service.
You’ll see these volunteers assisting in traffic control, traffic surveys, business patrols, picking up found property, canvassing neighborhoods, tagging abandoned vehicles, processing visitors at the stockade and many clerical and support service duties. Members also enjoy assisting non-profit organizations and civic groups with event traffic control, fingerprinting, lost children searches and coordination of medical emergencies.
Currently Bravo district (Lehigh Acres) members of V.O.I.C.E. have worked more than 42,000 hours this year alone. Recently Lehigh Acres Gazette got to on a three hour road along.
So far this year the members have completed the following:
Ticketed abandoned vehicles - 333 Area checks- 20,603
Construction site checks 2,234 Right of way tickets issued 166
Handicapped tickets 228 Vacation house checks 8,515
Warning tickets 570 Beach traffic hours 1,549.5
Crime prevention hours 159 Child fingerprints 2,436
Patrol hours 27,150 Special details 6,015
Tech services 192.5 Traffic control hours 1,776.50
If interested in becoming a member of V.O.I.C.E., applicants need to be at least 18 years old; a high school graduate or possess a G.E.D; have a valid driver’s license; no criminal record; and in good health. Call the sheriff’s volunteer office at 477-1422.
The Lehigh Acres Gazette would like to personally thank Lieutenant Petracca, Lieutenant King and Sheriff Mike Scott in letting us have access to the great program.