Membership is dwindling for both the Missouri City Police and Fire Auxiliary and the Citizen’s Response Team, officials said.
As the city prepares for its next round of Police and Fire Academy classes—which begin May 10—auxiliary and city leaders hope to generate interest from residents.
The auxiliary raises money for the Missouri City Police Department as well as Fire and Rescue Services, while the Citizens’ Response Team assists officers during services calls. Because of a lack of volunteers, the auxiliary cancelled its annual April benefit, auxiliary Second Vice President Mary Amaya said.
“We’re supposed to be the [liaisons] between the citizens, the police and the fire department,” Amaya said. “We don’t want the auxiliary to go under because Missouri City’s group was the first [joint police and fire auxiliary] in Texas.”
Along with informing residents about Missouri City’s public safety services, part of the Police and Fire Academy’s mission is to recruit members for the auxiliary and response team after completing the class, officials said. At an April 4 City Council meeting, Mayor Allen Owen said people who have completed the academy may not know about the program’s intention to recruit auxiliary members.
“I encourage all the citizens who have been through [the academy] before to consider coming on board and helping them,” Owen said. “I’m really disappointed that numbers have shrunk to the point that they don’t have the volunteers to [hold the benefit].”
The 2015 benefit raised $30,000, which was split evenly between the police and fire departments. Amaya said each department received between $11,000 and $13,000 annually from the group over the last three years, which supplements their budgets.
Auxiliary members pay $10 per person or $15 per family—which is defined by two or more people—per year in dues to raise funds as well.
Fire and Rescue Services requests the auxiliary several times a year. The greatest demand occurs during the summer, said Chris Horsak, Fire and Rescue Services assistant chief. Officers will call auxiliary and response team members for bottled water, snacks or other items to help firefighters during an emergency.
“As outside temperatures rise, firefighters must undergo a rehabilitation process that allows for electrolyte replenishment and time resting to ensure our body temperatures stay within a normal range,” Horsak said. “Historically, the auxiliary has provided electrolyte replacement beverages and iced down towels to support firefighters working in summer months.”
Police request the group’s help less often, Police Chief Michael Berezin said, citing safety concerns for citizens while officers are responding to a call.
The auxiliary has about 15 members but not all are active, Amaya said. Some have been in the group for close to 30 years, but there is concern about aging members with limited mobility.
She said auxiliary officers are considering reducing meetings to once every three months in to better accommodate working adults. Two officer positions are currently open for a group vice president and secretary, officials said.
“If this keeps happening and we don’t have the group to come back, or we don’t restructure—I don’t know [what will happen],” she said.
Horsak said that losing the auxiliary would have multiple side effects.
“Aside from the financial impact, if the auxiliary were to fold Missouri City Fire and Rescue Services would lose a connection with the community,” he said. “Community involvement is valuable between any local government and the individual city service providers.”