LEE COUNTY, Fla.- It's your money, and the Lee County Sheriff's Office has saved more than half a million dollars with volunteers. And those volunteers are doing more than answering phones and helping with paper work. We uncovered they're doing everything from fingerprinting to assisting the Major Crimes Unit.
They look like law enforcement officers and certainly sound the part, but these people on patrol don't get paid.
"I work at least 4 days a week, 10 hours a day. I put in 2,200 hours last year," Gary Novatny said Friday.
The VOICE program stands for Volunteer Observers Impacting the Community Effort. They are a crew of 163 unpaid hands, assisting the Sheriff's Office now more than ever.
"With the budget cutbacks, we've had recently a number of people retire and we're not filling those positions," Stacey Payne of LCSO said.
So, VOICE volunteers are stepping in, logging 25,000 hours this year alone.
"Now, we're having our volunteers working in our evidence facility, they're helping out maybe with some of our crime scenes, going door-to-door just canvasing a neighborhood," Payne said Friday.
So far this year, the volunteers have saved the Sheriff's Office over $518,000...their selfless act all in the name of public safety.
"I enjoy it. It just makes you feel good. You feel like you've accomplished something and that you've helped. That in itself is enough to make it worthwhile," Novatny said.
About 70 VOICE volunteers are seasonal, so more manpower is needed now.
For more information about the Lee County Sheriff's Office VOICE program visit: http://www.sheriffleefl.org/prevention/voice.aspx