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Citizen’s Patrol helps deputies by keeping watchful eye on Camano Island

  • Volunteer Citizen's Patrol members on Camano Island include Kerry Michaelis (left), Liz Tarbet, Carolyn Tilton, Maureen Barnhard and Earl Barnhard. &q...

    Kristi O'Harran / The Herald

    Volunteer Citizen's Patrol members on Camano Island include Kerry Michaelis (left), Liz Tarbet, Carolyn Tilton, Maureen Barnhard and Earl Barnhard. "We are the eyes of the sheriff's department,'' says patrol Capt. Earl Barnard.

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By Kristi O'Harran
Herald Columnist
Published:
  • Volunteer Citizen's Patrol members on Camano Island include Kerry Michaelis (left), Liz Tarbet, Carolyn Tilton, Maureen Barnhard and Earl Barnhard. &q...

    Kristi O'Harran / The Herald

    Volunteer Citizen's Patrol members on Camano Island include Kerry Michaelis (left), Liz Tarbet, Carolyn Tilton, Maureen Barnhard and Earl Barnhard. "We are the eyes of the sheriff's department,'' says patrol Capt. Earl Barnard.

Helpers for the Island County Sheriff's Department, some 36 members of the Volunteer Citizen's Patrol, do chores that give Camano Island deputies more time to do official deputy duties.
"We are the eyes of the sheriff's department," said patrol Capt. Earl Barnard. "A lot of people in the golden age like to volunteer."
Members of the patrol share an old police car, a 2005 Impala, with 160,000 miles on the odometer. When Island residents let the department know they are leaving on vacations, the patrol checks their homes to make sure all is shipshape while the owner is out of town.
If anything seems amiss, the patrol calls a deputy.
"This morning on Cross Island Road, two vehicles were stopped with people standing around," said Carolyn Tilton. "We stopped to ask if they needed help. They were out of gas."
She said being a volunteer member of the patrol is gratifying.
"You spend your life busy," Tilton said. "Your kids grow up, you are free. What do you do with your time?"
Volunteers travel in pairs in four-hour shifts. Barnard keeps everyone on a schedule.
He said the Camano group began about 1995. The retired Edmonds firefighter said in addition to patrolling, they're the folks who park the radar trailer that flashes how fast your car is going.
They also deliver mail, evidence, court documents and road department paperwork to the Coupeville campus for Island County. It's about 120 miles round trip between county annexes.
Another valuable service of the Citizen Patrol is fingerprinting. Volunteer Liz Tarbet said one day they did 35 sets of prints, for instance, for those seeking concealed weapons permits, for teachers, senior center drivers and real estate agents.
One time out on patrol, Tarbet was on a vacation check, expecting to find a closed, locked house. Instead there were people and cars about.
"The owner was notified," she said. "They forgot to call us and say they rented out the house."
Owners welcome calls about the status of their properties, she said. The patrol also goes out at night to make sure businesses and churches are locked. If a registered sex offender moves into a neighborhood, they knock on doors to let folks know.
Earl Barnard is not only captain of the patrol, he is the president of the new Camano Law Enforcement Support Foundation. It aims to provide education for the public, and support and provide equipment for the Citizen Patrol, sheriff's department and Washington State Park Rangers on Camano Island.
Since receiving status as a public charity, the foundation has received many donations and held two fundraisers. It already paid for mechanical work done on the patrol car. It's buying apparel for the patrol. They hope to have a tea and fashion show in the spring.
Maureen Barnard said working for the patrol and foundation is a good way to get acquainted with folks on the Island. Patrol member Kerry Michaelis said the group gets together for dinners. They also run into one another volunteering at an Island food bank.
One time on patrol they pulled up to a vacation house and found people with dollys and trucks outside, Michaelis said. "We asked what they were doing there," he said. It turned out it was the homeowners moving back in. "They said, 'You guys are sure on top of things!'"

Kristi O'Harran: 425-339-3451, oharran@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » Camano IslandCoupevillePolice

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