MALIBU—Officer Mark Russo, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Volunteers on Patrol (VOP) was honored for his excellent leadership service and dedication on Monday, April 22.

The commitment to keep the Pacific Coast Highway, and Malibu safe has been a priority for Russo the past eight years in the VOP program. The program is an unpaid volunteer group that aims to protect the community under the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department regulations.

The minimum requirement for team members is 16 hours per month. Russo reached 5,000 hours of community service as a VOP, while working as manager and a full-time father of two teenagers.

VOP’s volunteered 450 hours to assist with the Woolsey Fire where residents saw their homes and belongings destroyed; some were also injured and three deaths occurred as a result of the Woolsey Fire. Officers continue to dedicate consistent hours to serve the community including traffic accidents, security patrol and arson watch serving Malibu.

“The training is fantastic and they really put you in front of the community. It’s the essence of community-based policing, because you’re out there in uniform, in a sheriff’s car and you’re responding to a lot of situations where the help of the sheriff’s department and the fire department is actually needed,” Russo stated during the ceremony.

In 2015, Russo was honored as volunteer of the year at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. The VOP hopes more residents become interested in serving as volunteers in the program.