The Ashland Police Department is beginning 2011 with about half the volunteers its had in the past, putting some community programs in jeopardy.

The Ashland Police Department is beginning 2011 with about half the volunteers it's had in the past, putting some community programs in jeopardy.

Sgt. Hector Meletich says the roughly dozen volunteers the department has are very valuable to Ashland, and without their help, police could be forced to hire a paid employee to fill the void.

"It could be costly, and it would be a shame not to have volunteers." Meletich said. "There might be just a handful, but they're amazing."

VIPS volunteers handle security at special events, patrol parks and the downtown area, and act as couriers to the district attorney and Sherriff's Department in Medford.

"They're issued a uniform, and can become our eyes and ears on the streets," Meletich said.

Those interested in become volunteers with the VIPS program can call Lt. Frank D'Entremont at 541-488-2211.