May 26, 2022

Reserve officers in U.S., abroad give long arm of the law a helping hand

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From Dallas News

A conference on policing attracted nearly 100 people to Dallas last week — from a retired social worker from Canada to an engineer and a Parliament worker from the United Kingdom.

While the participants have vastly different day jobs, they also have a common purpose: All serve as reserve police officers back home, sharing many responsibilities with paid law enforcement.

Reserve officers typically have the same training, uniforms and roles as sworn officers. Similar to military reserves, volunteer officers are seen as force multipliers for local police agencies.

“You’re able to call on a ready reserve of people to do something that you wouldn’t have the manpower for otherwise,” said Ross Wolf, who oversees the reserve unit for the Orange County sheriff’s office in Florida.
Last year, Wolf said, reserve officers were among the first to respond to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

In Dallas, after last year’s ambush, reserve officers quickly stepped in to help a grieving Police Department manage its day-to-day duties.

They also help staff protests around the city, allowing patrol officers in a department that’s dealing with an attrition crisis to carry on with their usual roles.

Representatives from six countries — Singapore, the Bahamas, Canada, the U.K., Grand Cayman and the U.S. — gathered at last week’s conference to share best practices with one another and learn about the latest trends in policing in the U.S. and abroad.

For example, it’s common for volunteer officers in the U.S. to carry firearms. But in some countries, officers don’t carry guns at all.

In the Ontario Police Department where Rhea Campbell volunteers, sworn officers have weapons, but volunteers don’t. Still, the volunteer officers are trained in how to use the weapons in case the need to use them arises.
In Dallas, Campbell and her fellow auxiliary constables got a chance to see how others do it.

“We learn more about what’s going on so we’re not all tunnel-visioned or capsulized in our own area,” Campbell said.

While giving back to the community, reserves also infuse creativity and expertise from their own fields into policing.
“They bring skills to the organization that we don’t have,” said Tom Haye, who is part of the Hampshire Constabulary in the U.K. “They bring experience and understanding in business practices and technology that we just do not have, and often that we cannot afford.”

The policing conference in Dallas drew people from five other countries to DPD’s Police Academy.(Naheed Rajwani/Staff)

IMAGE: Dr Laura Knight Twitter

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