Byron Hicks and Patrick Finnigan

Byron Hicks and Patrick Finnigan are recognized during “A Celebration of Heroes” meeting at The Hotel Roanoke.

A local man was recognized at a “Celebration of Heroes” event in Roanoke for his volunteer work with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office COPS program.

Ferrum resident Byron Hicks has been volunteering with the Community-Oriented Policing Services, more commonly known as Citizens On Patrol program, for five years.

“It’s been great,” he said. “It offers many opportunities to help people and make a difference.”

The auxiliary program is for eligible citizens who act as the eyes and ears for the sheriff’s office. After completing the Sheriff’s Citizen Academy and a COPS training course, the unarmed, non-sworn volunteers patrol residential neighborhoods and elementary schools.

Some of their duties include vacation and business checks, car unlocks, motorist assistance, traffic control, funeral escorts and visitation at the jail.

The program was launched in 2013 by Sheriff Bill Overton and is currently headed by Lt. Erik Mollin.

According to H.L. Nolen, outreach coordinator of the FCSO, the program had nine members in its first year. Currently, there are 24 volunteers.

Each volunteer is required to serve eight hours a month. Hicks puts in 16 hours.

“My biggest motivation is giving back to the community and being the eyes and ears for the county,” he said. “I’ve always been interesting in law enforcement. I Just always admired the people that worked in law enforcement.”

Hicks works full-time as a foreman in the sheet metal fabrication shop at G. J. Hopkins, an electrical and mechanical contractor in Roanoke.

Once he retires, he plans to become more active in the COPS program.

As for the “Celebration of Heroes” event he was invited to in April, he said he was “humbled and excited and very honored” to be recognized.

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