Published: Dec 21, 2012 6:03 PM EST
Updated: Dec 21, 2012 6:18 PM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - They patrol the waters of Cape Coral watching for crime. But they aren't police officers, they're volunteers. And they save the police department hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

There are a total of 45 marine volunteers, and they're out on the waters of Cape Coral every day, acting as the eyes and ears of the police department. 

These men in blue patrol the canals on their own free time.

There are three types of volunteers, those that work in administration, road patrol, and the marine unit. 
Terry Nicodemus, as the volunteer captain, keeps an eye on all of them.

"We're tying to do, for the city, a favor, while they cant afford to have enough officers," he explained.

It's estimated that all the volunteers combined, which is more than 140, save the department three quarters of a million dollars every year. The marine unit specifically targets the city's more than 400 miles of canals, looking for speeders, floating debris, and downed signs. 

They don't have the authority to ticket, but they are a direct link to the police department. "We're on the radio with the police dispatchers, the same ones the police are. We can call in anything that we see suspicious," said Nicodemus.

It takes special training. The volunteers take an academy class. One is coming up in January. 

"I would say come on out and have a good time! We certainly do! We have fun out here, and being out on the water is a great thing," said volunteer marine sergeant James McKinley. 

Here is more information about the upcoming class:

Cape Coral Police Volunteer Unit Seeking Applicants

(November 19, 2012)- The Cape Coral Police Volunteer Unit is seeking applicants for an upcoming Volunteer Academy Class.

The class is the week of Monday January 28th thru Friday February 1st and will be hosted at Cape Coral Police Headquarters.

The procedure for becoming a volunteer consists of filling out an application at Police Headquarters during regular business hours, an interview and a background investigation.

Applicants must be over 21 years old, a resident of Lee County and possess a valid Florida drivers' license.

Upon successful completion of the academy class, volunteers must volunteer at least 16 hours per month and may serve in any or all of the three divisions of the volunteer unit:

Patrol Division - This division patrols the streets of Cape Coral, assisting with non-moving violations such as handicap parking violations, parking in a fire lane, median parking, etc. They do vacation house checks, direct traffic at crashes, etc. They work special events and other events as assigned.

Marine Division - This division patrols the canals of Cape Coral watching for safety hazards, etc. They also patrol the parks that feature boat launching ramps.

Administrative Division - This division works the information desks at the police station and at city hall. They also do fingerprinting and some clerical work.

The deadline for applications is December 28.