By the Division of Adult Parole Operations

Parole agents who take part in an annual run decided to help raise funds to cover the costs of their team’s event volunteers.

Earlier this year, Baker To Vegas (B2V) Team 150 runner Parole Agent II (PA II) Lupe Sanchez felt that there needed to be a change in the way volunteers and support staff are recognized.

The B2V runners work hard during the year, both physically and mentally, to prepare for their leg of the relay and are rewarded in many ways.  However, not a single runner could participate in the race if it weren’t for the numerous staff who volunteers their time.  So, Sanchez and his team decided that Los Angeles California Parole Apprehension Team (CPAT) would facilitate fundraisers specifically aimed at providing monetary stipends for the costs that volunteers incur while supporting their team.

As one might assume, all the runners for Parole Team 150 are Division of Adult Parole Operations Parole (DAPO) agents, traveling to Las Vegas for B2V from all parts of California.  Lesser known is the fact that all of the team volunteers are also DAPO Parole Agents.  Each of the team volunteers incurs costs for travel, lodging and food just to show up and work an eight-hour shift.  Many times their shifts are in the middle of the night.

As a runner is making his/her way up the steep hills and down the precipitous canyons of the 120-mile course, team volunteers are required to follow their runner in a team van. They monitor their runner’s physical condition under the grueling daytime heat and then into the frigid temperatures after nightfall.  Each van must have three volunteers including a vehicle operator, a passenger to provide water and first aid and an alternate runner.

Team coordinators PAI Tina Rivero, PAIII Angela Kent, PAI Dean Onyanga, PAI Mireya Audet and PAI Rick Audet must prepare the van long before the race.  A number of items are required, including over-head amber lights, radio communication, water, ice packs, misters, battery-powered lighted running vests, and first-aid/initial responder equipment.  A volunteer agent must be waiting to “catch” each runner as he/she enters the “chute,” a designated area where the baton is passed on to the next team member.  The “catchers” are required to be present and are crucial to the safety of the runners, as they guide the exhausted Parole Agent to paramedics for a mandatory medical evaluation. Volunteers also drive other shuttle vehicles back and forth to Las Vegas, insuring that runners and volunteers are in the right places at the right time, all night long.

To provide financial support for the volunteers, a few fundraisers have been launched in the Southern region.

L.A. CPAT PAI Rich Gonsalves approached team sponsor and Federal Firearms Licensed Dealer Aeros Corporation, who provided a Smith and Wesson Military and Police (M&P) Shield at dealer cost. Aeros graciously donated the profits as well as the Department of Justice transfer fees.  As one of the firearms recently added to the optional duty weapons list for DAPO agents, the M&P Shield has proven to be a very popular choice among Parole Agents. The firearm was awarded on Aug. 31.

L.A. CPAT PAII Sanchez and L.A. CPAT PAI Douglas Kang also launched their own fundraiser to benefit the B2V volunteers.  Agent Kang approached El Centro PAI James Crabtree who facilitated the manufacture of hundreds of DAPO challenge coins.  Challenge coins have a rich history, tracing back to the Roman Empire, where soldiers were awarded coins to recognize their achievements.  Challenge coins are a tradition in the military and throughout law enforcement, collected and traded, with a strong sense of pride for their agency.  DAPO management could award a Parole Agent with a challenge coin for exemplary service, as a promotional gift, or even as a farewell to our retiring staff.  For anyone interested in a DAPO Challenge Coin, contact Sanchez at (213) 434-9765. Also, keep an eye out for the upcoming t-shirt fundraiser.

As the last Parole Agent makes his/her way into downtown Las Vegas and across the finish line at the convention center, there is a strong feeling of achievement, pride and camaraderie shared among runners and volunteers alike.  The B2V team race is a great way for Parole Agents from both Southern and Northern regions, who would otherwise probably never even meet, to work towards a fun and challenging goal together.

Read the story on the 2016 Baker to Vegas run, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2016/04/run-team-unites-cdcr-parole-agents-from-across-california/