Thursday Mar 26 2009
3,000 hours of hard work with no pay
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Auburn volunteer loves helping law enforcement
A devastating event led Aillene Cole to help those who help protect the community. Cole, a former claims adjustor for 42 years for AAA, decided to spend part of her retirement years volunteering at the Auburn Police Department after she lost a dear friend and police officer to a tragic on-duty death. “I think about it constantly,” Cole said. Cole has spent more than 3,000 hours at the Auburn police station since February 2006. Her eyes still well with tears when she speaks of her former Oakley neighbor of about eight years, Pittsburg police inspector Raymond Giacomelli, who was fatally shot in April 2003 when he entered a home police were searching. “I do what I do in his memory and his honor, but I enjoy it, too, I really do,” Cole said. Cole said the recent death of four Oakland policemen brought back memories of Giacomelli’s death. “Every time something like this happens, it brings it back,” Cole said. “I know firsthand what these officers put on the line every day.” While there are parts of her job that aren’t glamorous, such as moving files, faxing police reports and answering phones, Cole said she loves working in the department and getting to know the officers and staff. “We have really great officers here,” Cole said. “Working here, you get to see the fun side of them.” She said highlights of volunteering include helping out at community events like parades and the summer night staple Cruise Nite. “Whatever little bit I can do to help out, I enjoy doing,” Cole said. In 2008, she was honored as Volunteer of the Year at the Placer Law Enforcement Agency awards for her dedication to the job. Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris said Cole was a great nomination for the award because of her diligence, support and commitment to the department. She added that Cole is a “pleasure to work with.” “I think she’s the whole package and more than you could ever ask from a person volunteering their time,” Harris said. “We would love to have more Allies as part of our volunteer core.” When she’s not volunteering two full days a week at the station, Cole enjoys trapshooting and spending time with her grandchildren. Their mother is Cole’s 30-year-old grandniece, who she legally adopted about three years ago. The ceremony was finalized at the historic Auburn courthouse in Downtown. Cole had taken care of her grandniece off and on since she was 5 months old when her biological mother didn’t want to keep her daughter. Cole said she grappled with feelings of guilt when deciding to go through with the adoption. “I had been her mother for all of those years and I felt a little guilty because my niece did not want that to happen,” Cole said. “I didn’t want to take her daughter away from her.” But Cole’s grandniece insisted on going through with the process. “She is like my daughter,” Cole said. “I do everything I can for her and her children.” That includes driving home to Oakley on a frequent basis to pick up her grandchildren and bring them back to her Auburn home. Her 11-year-old grandson is the first and so far only Auburn police junior volunteer. He has a uniform and badge, Cole said. Cole said she hopes others will follow in her footsteps and volunteer to help local law enforcement agencies. “We can always use people able to help and willing to help,” Cole said. She said volunteering makes her feel good and plans to continue doing it for the foreseeable future. “I usually have a smile on my face when I’m here,” Cole said. “It’s a good feeling to know you’re doing some small part to help police out.” If you are interested in volunteering at the Auburn Police Department, call (530) 823-4237 ext. 239. The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.