Volunteers power sheriff's off road team - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Volunteers power sheriff's off road team

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This video screen image shows veteran Bill Simpson, who started volunteering 35 years ago, before the ORET team existed. This video screen image shows veteran Bill Simpson, who started volunteering 35 years ago, before the ORET team existed.
ORET team member Bill Simpson and News 8’s Carlo Cecchetto respond to a call. ORET team member Bill Simpson and News 8’s Carlo Cecchetto respond to a call.
An ORET dune buggy in action. An ORET dune buggy in action.
The San Diego Sheriff's Department's Off Road Enforcement Team - also known as ORET. The San Diego Sheriff's Department's Off Road Enforcement Team - also known as ORET.
ORET, Cal Fire and EMTs respond to help an injured motorcycle rider. ORET, Cal Fire and EMTs respond to help an injured motorcycle rider.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Off roading is a favorite pastime for many San Diegans, but it comes with a little danger. And helping keep people out of trouble and safe is the job of the Sheriff's Reserve Deputies and volunteers. They put in thousands of free hours each year to keep off roading safe and fun.

Quads, dirt bikes, SUVs, a dune buggy, even a plane are all part the San Diego Sheriff's Department's Off Road Enforcement Team – also known as ORET.

We went on a ride along at Ocotillo Wells off road recreation area to see the fast paced work they do.

Behind the wheel, veteran Bill Simpson. He started about 35 years ago before the team existed.

"Y'know, it was so far back, it's hard to remember," said Bill. "Things were pretty crazy until we got out here and settled it down, making stops and writing tickets and making people aware of our presence."

This entire time, Bill's been working for free. In fact, most of the personnel out here on any given weekend are actually volunteers and this array of equipment that they have is paid for from state funding, from grants they receive every year. That's right, with the exception of a couple of paid staff members, volunteers are on patrol out here.

"They're peace officers just like I am. They have powers of arrest. But just don't get paid," explained Sergeant Rick Turvey. "We work a 12 hour shift, 16 so sometimes it's 12, 14 hours a day out here."

The volunteers go through all the sheriff's training and have to be able to handle any situation, including medical emergencies.

"On major weekends, it's an everyday type of accident. Solo rider comes off a quad or bike and gets injured, very common, unfortunately," explained Bill.

ORET also enforces laws, including DUI, and educates.

"We probably do a lot more education than tickets, but y'know, certain types of situations warrant a ticket," noted Bill.

They can also offer a helping hand, maybe loan someone a wrench or help someone who's stuck - even if it's another member of the team. And, they do it for free to give back.

"Without our reserves and volunteers, our department would be hard pressed to do things we do and provide for the safety of residents of San Diego County," added Sgt. Turvey

Sergeant Turvey works with the 90 or so members of law enforcement reserves at the Sheriff's Department, including ORET.

Volunteers, including the reserves, performed about 1.2 million hours of service last year, all for free.

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