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~ Ron Lyons,
How to stay safe before, during and after a pursuit
~ Lt. Dan Marcou,
The Missing Person / Runaway Dilemma
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Ten Most Wanted List
Reserve Police Force?
~ Christopher B Kuch, PhD
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New UWPD Chief hopes to repair connection between police, campus community
~ Sammy Gibbons, The Daily Cardinal, University of Madison-Wisconsin newspaper
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  Reserve Police Force?  
  ~ Christopher B Kuch, PhD  

Considering Adding a Reserve Police Force?

Many cities around the country have part-time officers to supplement their regular force.  Also, there are departments around the country that rely exclusively on reserve or auxiliary officers to provide service to their communities. There are over 18,000 state and local police agencies in the U.S.  In these there are about 765,000 full-time sworn officers and about 44,000 part-time (about 6%).  On average nationwide there are about 250 full-time sworn police per 100,000 population.  A lot of cities across the U.S. are well below this percentage.

Most areas have many certified law enforcement officers that are either working in smaller departments, or not yet employed in law enforcement.  This proposal consideration for law enforcement departments or agencies discusses the advantages and some disadvantages of creating a reserve, special, auxiliary, or part-time unit of legally trained law enforcement officers to supplement or in smaller communities provide full police protection.  It is meant to stimulate discussion within the ranks of departments and communities and if there is a general acceptance of the key principles a group should be formed to discuss this proposal in-depth with city administrators and chiefs of police.

Calls for Service

Some departments have formed a type of citizen’s police unit, they are not empowered to make arrests or carry guns. In addition, these units typically ride with officers and are assigned special areas to assist in crowd control at special events.  With Reserve officers (called by other departments as auxiliary, special, part-time, deputies, etc) do have powers of arrest and can carry weapons.  Most are assigned just like other full-time officers in patrol cars or other vehicles.  They respond and generally handle every call that full-time officers do.

Since they have been thru the police academy and are certified by the state, they are trained just like their full-time counterparts.  They can respond to calls for service, emergency calls, traffic accident investigation, and serve court papers. These Reserve officers typically have government insurance on them in case they are injured or are involved in some civil litigation.  Some departments require that they waive injury and health care coverage and mandate they obtain This increase amount of police officers can cover a wider area, intensify in areas of high police calls, and respond much faster to emergency situations.  When citizens call because someone is in a traffic accident, someone is breaking into their house, or were just assaulted, they don’t care who responds as long as it is a cop. On the down side, these officers might not be totally familiar with an area or the most recent criminal activity in bad neighborhoods. Never-the-less, most departments utilizing Reserves have multiple officers respond to major events so full-time officers can take charge should Reserve officers get there first.

Officers Available from the Area

Typically in a city or village and the surrounding counties there are many certified officers that are not employed in law enforcement.  It could be that they have recently graduated from the police academy, just retired, or have switched careers. One only needs to check the local or regional police schools or community colleges that offer state certified police training to see that there are many graduates not yet employed.  Also, newly graduated officers from other nearby or even distant areas might wish to relocate to their area for jobs if they have an opportunity to serve part-time on a police department.

In addition, local smaller villages have officers that could work part-time in the larger city or cities.  Finally, the Sheriff’s Office and Prisons have some officers that are police certified and are now working in other related fields. The pool of trained officers is abundant, it is just that departments need to utilize them. Contractual agreements within those department might have to be modified to permit their officers to serve part-time in another jurisdiction or agency.

Managing the New Unit

In many jurisdictions that employ or have Reserve officers a special commander is in charge of them. It could be a full-time officer or a Reserve officer with many years of full-time service. These administrators or managers keep the part-time officers informed of new laws, new requirements for additional training, and update them on present day events or problem areas.  They in essence supervise them to ensure they are integrated within the department. Of course there can be resentment from the full-time officers, but if they are shown to be there to assist and complement the full-time officers, it will reduce any possible friction.  Remember full-time officers are there to serve not be kings of policing.

A strong message from the chief to all units that arrogance, insensitivity, and reluctance to adopt and implement them within the department will not be tolerated.  “Turf battles” do occur in or between most organizations, but with superior administrative and supervisory personnel it can be greatly reduced.  A classic case is between some Sheriffs and the State Police.  Most state Sheriffs have full police powers and conduct patrols.  Citizens benefit from more officers on the streets.  In fact, in the majority of the states, Sheriffs are highly regarded and have police powers.  Within States that have sheriffs with no police powers or states that have state police with only traffic enforcement suffer from the turf zone mentality.  Victims wait longer for help, and there are less officers out there to catch the bad guys and girls.

Pay or No Pay

Why would anyone work for free?  Thankfully, in America we have large numbers of civic minded individuals.  They are concerned about specific issues or causes.  Thus, they devote some of their free time for those purposes.  Just like volunteer firemen, many people take on challenging and dangerous work for their communities.  Reserve officers are the same.  They wish to serve.  Keep in mind that is the motto of most police departments.

All over the country there are many different formulas for paying Reserve officers.  Some are non-paid, others pay some. It could be an hourly rate or one big party during the summer (hot-dogs, pepsi, and suds).  Should a department adopt a Reserve unit, this matter might require additional funding.  Perhaps the first year can be unpaid and the next, with positive results, might encourage citizens to vote for a small levy to pay for this unit.  Possible funding can come from large local corporations and civic minded businesses.  If we ask, most reputable groups and businesses will fund this new unit.

Free Training Prior to Hiring Full-Time from a Pool of Candidates.

Another great advantage is having a large pool of trained and certified officers to hire full-time from. They will be familiar with all the officers on the department, the city, and special issues specific to that area.  When the city recruits new full-time officers it can have a wider selection from national, state, and within the department itself to choose from.  Should a city create a Reserve officer, it will not have to train him or her and it will be able to shorten the field training period.  This saves money for the city to reinvest in maintaining the Reserve unit.

Furthermore, hiring from within the department might increase others to join the Reserve unit in hopes of eventually getting hired full-time.  Also, their performance will be better and less likely to be confrontational with the public.  After all, they are having a “track record” at the department that can be used to assess the merits of hiring them full-time.  Anything that saves the community money and increases public services is a win-win for the department and the citizens they serve.

Community Interaction, Relations, and Increased Patrols

Over the past several years we have seen an increase in “reported and alleged” police illegal or inappropriate behavior.  Most cities have not suffered that to a great extent yet.  But, some neighborhoods within larger cities still don’t trust the police and are reluctant to assist the police with their investigations.  With more officers coming from the ranks of Reserve units we can put extra patrols and beat cops into the lesser affluent neighborhoods—a form of Neighborhood patrol When we assign more units in these areas we can bridge different cultures and social classes.  Thus, building bridges over perceived correct or incorrect views that are negative towards each other. Officers will be seen more as a friendly face to serve citizens and prevent crime, while citizens will be less likely to be viewed as trouble, a hassle, or potential criminal violator.  Only when officers stop, get out of their cars, and speak to people can relationships be developed.  With additional Reserve units this can easily be done without reducing patrols in other areas.  In fact these units might even know someone in “bad neighborhoods.”

Many police departments around the country utilize part-time officers to either serve as the only officers in smaller jurisdictions or to supplement larger departments.  They have been used successfully in the vast majority of time and rarely do they get disbanded for poor performance.  The benefits seem to outweigh the disadvantages and departments should consider implementing some form of Reserve Unit. Should they create a part-time unit we will have many more officers on the streets making the city safer and being more able to serve the community. There are many trained and certified officers in most areas that are waiting for someplace to serve.  Whether it be new graduates who have paid for their own training at a police academy, smaller departments, The Sheriff’s Office, or someone in corrections.  These officers are already able to perform full-time police work.  Initial funding of the unit can come from community businesses that want to be more civic minded.

Supervising them can be easy with full-time supervisors already on the force.  In addition many retired offices might come back to help out.  The city will have a more locally trained and integrated group of officers to consider for full-time employment in the future.  Community relations will be more positive and preventing criminal activities can occur more as a result of more officers in certain areas on patrol.  Lastly, these Reserve officers might be assigned nights and weekends which better matches their ability to work.  This results in the possibility of more full-time officers being able to work days and not weekends. Let’s hope that this proposal gets some attention and the walls of we area better than them falls down.

Kuch, Christopher B., “Intercultural Policing,” The Law Enforcement Times, Sept. Dr. Kuch holds a PhD, MA, and MS in criminal justice.  He has written about a variety of police issues. His current research is about preventative terrorism policies.  He was Deputy Sheriff in Ohio. He is on the adjunct faculty at Galatasaray University.



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