Good news, residents of poverty-stricken states where low tax revenues from weak economies fuels massive public service cutbacks which fuels a decline in quality of living which fuels further exodus of moneyed citizens in awful downward spiral: we've found a way to bolster your stretched-to-the-breaking-point police departments! Bad news: that way is you!

You, the citizen, "volunteering" to help out the police department. Because what our nation's beleaguered police departments need is a little less professionalism. The NYT reports:

The Fresno [volunteer cop] program has drawn a diverse roster of crime fighters, including a recent class that included an assistant golf pro, a Pizza Hut manager and Steve Aberle, a Spanish teacher with a mop of gray hair. Mr. Aberle said he went through the 11-week training course to get a taste of "the edge" of police life that he had read about in crime novels. "The whole thing is very cool," he said.

Hey America, it's either middle-aged Spanish teachers out to turn all their Cop Rock fantasies into realities, or no police at all. You have to take what you can get these days. You know who this volunteer opportunity would be good for? Recent college graduates. Toughen em up a bit. They're not doing anything, anyhow.

[NYT; photo of typical American police force Comedy Central]