DENVER (CBS4)– Many employers encourage their workers to volunteer but Denver’s Department of Public Safety is taking it a step further. The organization is giving all 4,500 employees, from police, fire, dispatch and community corrections, eight hours of paid leave a year to help those less fortunate.

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Denver’s Public Safety Manager Troy Riggs says it’s a different approach to public safety. They’re coming together for the community in a whole new way.

“We believe that every life that we help and put them on path to sustainability is good for public safety in this city,” said Riggs.

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The public safety motto of “protect and serve” now means serving meals, too. Public safety administrators started the initiative by helping with dinner at the Denver Rescue Mission.

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“The individuals serving today are responsible for 4,500 employees and the budgets of close to $600 million. They’re going to make decisions that affect people’s lives. I think we’re not only volunteering, we’re learning a great deal about how to make better decisions,” said Riggs.

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Alexxa Gagner with the Denver Rescue Mission says it’s a win-win, “Really inviting people in to serve a lot of times can break down any barriers whether you know our population or not.”

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Riggs hopes that population and public safety get to know each other better in a different setting, that’s not an emergency.

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“It’s building trust… and one way we do that is by coming in and serving people when they have a need. It also educates us as we are doing this to what that need actually is. It’s helping one person at a time, one community at a time, but we are focused on this for the next four years in the Department of Public Safety,” said Riggs.

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Riggs says employees are not required to participate – it’s a volunteer opportunity – and he says it will not result in overtime.

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Already some of those that helped out at the rescue mission are planning to volunteer on their own.

If you have a suggestion on a place that could use some volunteers, Public Safety would like to hear from you. You can email them at: publicsafety@denvergov.org.

Shaun Boyd

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