Where Have All the Reserves Gone?

By thinking outside the box and working with your reserve standards committees, the potential to keep more officers on the street to help combat the nation's rise in crime and offset Homeland Security duties is tremendous.

Bottom line is, when you consider the increase in crime, coupled with the additional Homeland Security duties with little or no cost reimbursement, magnified by some agency staff members serving in the active duty military reserves being activated for up to a year at a time for the war in Iraq, local law enforcement agencies could be facing some very difficult times in the near future.

The good news is, for agencies willing to be creative and/or work with their state POST commissions, as seen during and after World War II, our nation is filled with dedicated citizens who may be utilized to assist with specific tasks that can free up our full time officers.

Functional Training versus All-Purpose Training

For agencies who hold their reserve officers to the same training standards as full time sworn officers, and thus are finding it difficult to recruit new reserves, you may want to consider developing another set of reserve levels. These new "specialized" reserve officers would only perform specific tasks that can greatly free up your full time officers to focus on what they do best, responding to calls for service and catching the criminals.

As an example, below are several new levels of reserve officer functions to consider which represent tasks commonly performed by full time officers, yet may not provide the best return on investment when it comes to serving your community. In the below examples, reserve officers would not be required to complete all the standard training requirements, as their tasks would be limited to set functions. Rather than creating new training modules, it would make sense to use those already in place and choose the topics which apply to your "specialized" reserve levels, similar to ordering a la carte off a menu versus the full dinner. In doing so, your "specialized" reserves will receive the training needed to perform their specific tasks without compromising their training requirements. Upon reviewing several states new officer recruit training requirements, using this format could reduce the needed training time by 25% to 50%. If at a later date your reserves desire to become full functioning reserves, they could take the remaining classes they missed to complete their state and/or agency requirements.

CR--Custody Reserve

The purpose of the Custody Reserve is to assist officers with the care, custody and transport of individuals recently arrested by an officer who are being detained at the local police facility pending transport to the county or main jail facility. For agencies who have their officers transport arrestees, and depending on how far away your main jail facility is, this one function alone could increase your officers' time on the street by 20% or more.

Training: Custody Reserves will receive the basic level of training required to become an entry level sworn peace officer within your state to include first aid and CPR. Additional training will be provided to insure the Custody Reserve is proficient in the use of non-lethal weapons to protect themselves, such as a baton, pepper spray, and possibly a TASER. Additionally CRs should be proficient in the use of non-lethal compliance techniques, cuffing and searching.

ER--Event Reserve

The function of the Event Reserve is to provide additional staffing for special events such as high school, college or professional sports competitions, graduation ceremonies, community fairs, concerts and other events where large masses of people will be attending for a limited amount of time.

Training: In addition to the training provided to a Custody Reserve, Event Reserves will also receive firearms instruction/certification and traffic control instruction.

TR--Transit Reserve

For communities who use mass transit systems, such as trains, buses, and subways, TRs will be utilized to supplement the full time force by specifically patrolling these various methods of transportation, including the passenger stations.

Training: TRs will receive the same level of training as an Event Reserve, in addition to specialized training in the area of Homeland Security awareness for bomb recognition, chemical agents, and other forms of lethal weapons that may be employed by terrorists in a mass transit system.

TER--Traffic Enforcement Reserve

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