The True Savings of Reserves and Volunteers

Savings measured in the use of volunteers can range from negative zero, i.e., it will cost you... to hundreds of thousands of dollars saved in additional services delivered.

While this article just barely touched on the some of the roles and savings both sworn and civilian volunteers provide to law enforcement, the message should be clear. Trying to justify the use of them within an agency based on pure dollars and cents savings can be difficult or impossible. What agencies really need to focus on is the savings in lives, increased safety, and perception of the community of how able your agency is protecting them. Having said that, when it comes to dollars and cents, it does make sense to also calculate the amount of services donated and/or value-added services provided by your existing or future volunteers. For agencies who are lacking the technology they someday want to have, such as mobile data computers for officers to write reports in the field, a low-to-no-cost alternative may be available in the meantime through the use of volunteers. These costs need to be considered as a savings to the community and the agency, as they are real and measurable.

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