When Mike Muller was promoted to head of the Citizen Observer Patrol four years ago, about 15 COPs in leadership positions had just retired.
“I was the last guy with any kind of rank,” he said. “Just the week before being promoted to captain.”
Muller and his wife, Pam, are leaving the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office volunteer organization after nine years. Muller retired as chef on March 1. Pam is retiring as Commander on April 6.
Under the direction of Mike Muller, the COP added three patrols – an ATV unit on the beach to help injured people; a bicycle unit with COPs patrolling the trails in pairs and a marine patrol boat to assist disabled boats.
It also expanded the COP’s traffic accident investigations from about 70–90 per year to about 80 per month. COPs who pass a Sheriff’s Office course investigate accidents, issue citations for non-criminal violations, and go to court if the citation is disputed.
“I once went to the scene of an accident in Belle Terre, and there was a car overturned and another in a ditch,” Mike Muller said. “Two women were kissing. They said, ‘We’re just lucky to be alive, so we kissed.’
“I once went to the scene of an accident in Belle Terre, and there was a car overturned and another in a ditch. Two women were kissing. They said, ‘We’re just lucky to ‘to be alive, so we kissed.’
Later that day he made another call and two men were fighting, although there was barely a scratch on either car. If a fight breaks out, the COP calls the sheriff’s office to send a deputy. In nine years, Mike Muller said he once called for reinforcements.
COPs also organize parades and provide escorts at funerals. They have a house watch program where they will drive by and walk around a house if a homeowner requests it while they are away. COPs patrol in 13 marked Ford Fusion hybrids.
Pam Muller works at the Palm Coast Sheriff’s Office Substation Reception.
“The whole office is led by COPs,” she said. “We ship, we do fingerprints and gun, liquor and realtor licenses.”
According to the Flagler County Sheriff’s website, “Since 2005, COPs have worked approximately 260,000 hours, saving the county approximately $4,806,000.”
Over the past four years, Citizens On Patrol has averaged 70 to 75 volunteers, Mike Muller said.
His leadership style was inclusive, said Commander Mike Gaskill, who also retired in March.
“It was always a group effort,” Gaskill said. “He was always talking to everyone, asking their opinion. It was a very open exchange. Pam was pretty much the same as Mike, using everyone’s opinion. We are all volunteers. We’re not going to do it if we don’t like it.
“It was like a family”
Mike, 68, and Pam, 67, have been married for 27 years. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Mike retired at 56 after the couple sold their travel agency. After working 12-14 hour days together for many years, they were looking for something new. They moved from Chesapeake, Virginia to Palm Coast.
“We went to Rib Fest, and the sheriff’s office was asking for volunteers,” Mike said. “I had never been in the police business in my life, but I accepted an application. We decided, “Let’s give back to the community, even if it’s not our community. I have to meet the mayor. I’ve never seen the mayor of Chesapeake.
It quickly became their community.
“(Mike Muller) was always talking to everyone, asking their opinion. It was a very open exchange.
MIKE GASKILL, former COP Commander
“We’ve made a lot of friends through COPs,” Pam said. “It was like a family.”
Now the Mullers – who used to work 30 to 35 hours a week with the COPs – want to spend more time with their own family. They have a motorhome and they want to travel.
When Mike Muller quit, his fellow COPs gave him a miniature baseball bat with the inscription “Thank you for going batting for us”. They also signed a large card, each adding a heartfelt message.
He reads one aloud: “You have made a lasting impression on my life.
“I couldn’t read the card without crying,” he said. “I got emotional.”
Geraldine Marsh, a retired dentist who joined COPs after meeting Pam Muller, said she fell in love with the program.
“I met a kind group of people from different professional backgrounds with the sole purpose of serving the community,” she said. “Chief Muller and his wife have lovingly devoted much of their retired lives to supporting the Sheriff’s Department.”