TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When a call comes in, they're often the first to respond. Community Service Officers with the Tucson Police Department are there to help the public in times of need. The CSO program allows civilians a chance to see firsthand what it's like to work a crime scene.
"I'm not a police officer, but I am here to help you," said Erin Peters. "That's one of the first things I tell them."
They go through an academy, get hands on training and respond to distress calls. Community Service Officers with TPD are there to help whenever they can.
"We take larceny calls, thefts, burglaries, 10-52's which are accidents, accidents with injuries, vandalism calls," said Peters.
She joined the CSO program after retiring from the Air National Guard in 2015. For her, it's more than just a job.
"When you talk to someone, you talk to them; you treat them the way they want to be treated. You try to instill a little bit of sunshine if you can on that person. A little bit of hope. A little bit of, 'I'm here to help you, I don't want you to think that you're going through this alone because you're not. I'm here with you."'
CSO's don't carry guns and cannot make arrests. They help free up TPD officers by responding to calls that are less dangerous but still require officer assistance. Peters says officer safety is one of the biggest parts of her job.
For many of their CSO's this is a stepping stone to becoming a sworn officer later on.
"Giving someone or the public peace of mind, knowing that you're there to help them, It's amazing. It's an amazing feeling. You can't buy that. You can't go online and get that. No one can teach you that. That's something that you have to have inside your heart. So that's one of the reasons why I do this. I love it."
Tucson Police is looking to hire new CSO's. For more information click here.