Sierra Madre Police Chief Marilyn Diaz introduced a new group of “Traffic Volunteers” to the community at last night’s Council meeting. Eight members of the community underwent seven weeks of training in traffic control at the Glendora Police Dept. to become certified as traffic volunteers for SMPD. These volunteers will be employed in the event of a major emergency, and at community events that require barricades that close down streets.
For years, barricades at public events were manned by volunteers, such as local scout troops. However, after 89-year old George Weller drove into the crowd at the Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica in October, 2006, the City and the SMPD decided that future events would require the use of people trained in traffic control. Until now, that has meant that barricades have been staffed by members of the SMPD, or volunteers from SMPD or other departments. The use of members of SMPD has meant that organizations staging these events have had to pay $100/hr. for the officers to do so, and that cost has been a burden for the (mostly) non-profit organizations that put these events on, usually as a fundraiser.
SMPD Chief Diaz and Officer Gordon Pfeiffer have overseen the training of the volunteers, in an effort to provide financial relief to these organizations. Additional volunteers are being sought, as in emergency situations there may be a need for many more barricade monitors, and some of the larger events also require more than eight monitors. The Wistaria Festival, for instance, requires at least a dozen barricade monitors.