HESPERIA • It's hard to find a single Hesperia Citizen's on Patrol volunteer who doesn't love every minute of being on the job — and their numbers show it.
Over the last year, the Hesperia COP unit racked up an accumulative 27,745 hours of volunteer work, more than any other unit in San Bernardino County for the sixth consecutive year.
Composed of 60 members, the unit has prided themselves in watching over the community, many of whom are willing to wake up at 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. if called upon.
With such dedicated efforts, the county has taken notice. The Hesperia COP has been accommodated with eight equipped vehicles — the most in the county.
“We have a great group here,” said one of the newest COP members Wendy Echavarria. “It’s a ton of fun.”
With volunteers like Echavarria donating up to 100 hours a month, it’s hard to believe otherwise.
Over the last six years, the unit has developed into a tightly knit family with each member seen just as important as the next. Just like any other family, they rarely take a break from joking and teasing with one another. Whether they are sitting around headquarters, patrolling the streets or assisting in traffic accidents, there is always time for fun.
“We all joke around, but we always stay within our own track and always make sure to be respectful,” said volunteer Samuel Heredia.
Having such great camaraderie, it’s not hard to believe that their friendship has extended far beyond the call of duty. When member Chuck Dean suffered a heart attack, many fellow officers made sure to visit him in the hospital.
“Every year this group seems to get closer and closer,” said Cheryl Stevens who works within the COP Pawn Division.
But the unit has not always been so devoted to their job or each other.
Don Trotter, the longest tenured member of the group, remembers a time when the unit only had 20 volunteers who did not maintain the same level of dedication as now.
“There wasn’t a great morale,” said Trotter.
Current commander, Larry Malm, believes that the unit had suffered from being divided into cliques, mostly because of how some members had been excluded from certain tasks. In order to combat that problem, Malm has everybody sign up for the shifts and tasks they want with no strict obligations.
“We were kind of at the bottom, but now we really try to stress that everybody is equal,” said Malm. “Everyone who is here wants to be here and that’s the way we like it.”
Now Malm’s group is at the top, and has no intention of leaving anytime soon.
“We’re just going to keep this attitude going and see where it takes us,” Malm said.
With new plans to be more involved with the local elementary schools, and its continuance of its strong efforts in assisting the San Bernardin County Sheriff’s Hesperia station, Malm figures his unit will play an interracial role within the community for many years to come.