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Reserve Police Book Draws on 20 Years of Information

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : November 2, 2011 10:25 am : Classic Police Reserves, Featured, Police Reserve Certification Standards, Police Reserve Duties, Police Reserve Importance, Police Reserve Liability, Police Reserve Line of Duty Death, Police Reserve Recruitment, Police Reserve Screening, Police Reserve Training, Uncategorized

"The Cop Doc's Classic Writings on Police Reserves" front cover

Over two decades of reserve law enforcement information is now available in “The Cop Doc’s Classic Writings on Police Reserves.”  For 20 years, police reserve expert Dr. Richard Weinblatt, The Cop Doc, has written on volunteer and part-time law enforcement.  Known as reserve, auxiliary, special, intermittent, supermumerary, and other titles, the 350 page 6X9 paperback book features articles that Dr. Weinblatt wrote and were originally published in such magazines and websites as Law and Order: The Magazine for Police Management, Police, Sheriff, Narc Officer, American Police Beat, Corrections Technology and Management, PoliceLink.com, PoliceOne.com, and Officer.com.

Among the topics covered are reserves in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Texas.  Topics in “The Cop Doc’s Classic Writings on Police Reserves” include reserve troopers, reserve detectives, reserve field training officers (FTOs), reserve motorcycles, reserve K-9, reserves on boats, and reserve take home marked patrol cars.

“The Cop Doc’s Classic Writings on Police Reserves” is part of Dr. Weinblatt’s series of Classic Writings books grouped on categories of his published works.  Other titles include “The Cop Doc’s Classic Writings on Police Careers” and “The Cop Doc’s Classic Writings on Police Media Relations.”  Dr. Weinblatt, who has served on all sides of the reserve area as a reservists, reserve administrator, reserve liaison, and police chief, speaks extensively on volunteer and part-time law enforcement issues.

The book on reserves is available for order on Amazon.com and Createspace’s e-store for $15.95.

The reserve law enforcement book has also been bought by the 2011 Massachusetts Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) conference. All conference attendees will be given items including the reserve book.  Auxiliary Captain Marc Spigel, of the Framingham, MA, Police Department, is spearheading the event slated to take place November 12 and 13, 2011 at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester, MA.

Dr. Richard Weinblatt will be leaving the Orlando, FL, sunshine and heading towards the snow to deliver two speeches at the conference.  One will be for the participants at the Executive Track on Saturday afternoon and the keynote speech will be in the evening for all conference attendees.  The deadline to register has been extended for the 2011 Massachusetts Volunteers in Police Service conference  due to the snow storm and power outages in the Northeast.

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PoliceOne Police Reserve Article Gets Thumbs Up

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : August 19, 2011 11:07 am : Featured, Police Career, Police Jobs, Police Reserve Importance, Uncategorized

The varied opinions law enforcement professionals harbor towards reservists, and the services they provide, are highlighted by the mega-cop website PoliceOne.com.  Doug Wyllie, the senior editor of Praetorian Group’s PoliceOne.com and a good friend (I’ve had many articles published by Doug on PoliceOne) had elicited feedback from their readers on the role of reserve law enforcement officers.  Sometimes known as auxiliaries, the variety of responses that Doug received and his reasoned analysis of the comments, reflected the diversity of legal definitions and mission.  Here is the link to Doug’s excellently written article: http://www.policeone.com/police-jobs/articles/4239138-The-reserve-officers-role-in-law-enforcement/

Not surprisingly, Doug’s article, captured the anti-reserve sentiment and characterised it as the (in his words) “vocal minority.”  As usual, Doug is right on target.  Hard core union mentality that does not allow for innovative thinking is a byproduct of an era when public safety funding (police and firefighter services) were the untouchable third rail of a politicians life.  As I mentioned in a recent interview with New Jersey largest newspaper, The Star Ledger, politicians are not so concerned with law enforcement and public safety as they are fiscal austerity.

As I told Star-Ledger columnist Bob Braun:  “But now, even cops are not immune. ‘No one seems interested in public safety issues — it’s just the economy, an obsession with how people are going to survive.'” Here is the link to that article on police officer lay offs: http://blog.nj.com/njv_bob_braun/2011/08/spending_cuts_on_police_forces.html

In the old days, if a politician wanted to be viewed as tough on crime (and who didn’t), you advocated building a prison.  Even better if it was in your home district as that brought in local corrections jobs.  Nowadays, the tune has changed and creativity and innovation is the mantra.  Policing needs to evolve to avoid the fate of the Pontiac automotive division.

As mentioned in the article and the comments that follow Doug’s insightful and thought-provoking examination of volunteer and part-time policing, reserves are there for a number of reasons.  None of those include putting a full-timer out of the job.  On the contrary, cops need more friends now than ever before to withstand the assaults- physical in the streets and fiscal in the conference rooms that come their way. 

I have often used the quote that the reserves are the ultimate in community policing.  They literally put the police in the community and the community in the police.  They are the biggest ambassadors of police goodwill that you could create and in some communities have been the last defense against the two types of assaults.

As Doug’s “Editor’s Corner” piece sums up so eloquently: “maligned by some cops, warmly welcomed by others, reserve police officers are ‘extreme volunteers’ whose contributions to their community are becoming increasingly visible.”  Every police professional, volunteer and paid, as well as governmental policy maker,should read this article.  Way to go, Doug!

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Oregon Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Great Feedback on PoliceReserveOfficer.com

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : May 20, 2011 10:30 am : PoliceReserveOfficer.com Website, Uncategorized

I just got a terrific message from a reserve deputy sheriff in Oregon.  Kory (I got permission to use the first name and location) is a former volunteer firefighter who has found the articles on my new website on police reserves to be very helpful.  The letter was sent via the contact form on the website. This is great stuff! 

A major motivator for me to do The Cop Doc Radio Show and write these articles, blog posts, books, websites, etc. is to help people related to law enforcement.

Kory is an example of folks dedicated to serving their community.  In this case, it was the fire service followed by law enforcement.  Thanks for YOUR dedication, Kory!
Below is the fantastic message.  I have also reprinted it on the website.

Thank you for all of your articles!  You are obviously a very dedicated person and it shows in everything i have read.  I am just starting out as a Reserve Deputy and it is a thrilling, exciting and eye opening event.  I have truely enjoyed all of the challenges that i have faced and have such an incredible respect for law enforcment and all that they go through.  I was a volunteer firefighter for 7 1/2 years and after the switch from red to blue i have truely realized just how much i dont know.
–This mail is sent via contact form on PoliceReserveOfficer.com

So, what do you think?  Do the articles on law enforcement reserves help you?

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Florida Police Reserve & Auxiliary Training Certification: Are They OK?

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : May 18, 2011 3:44 pm : Featured, Police Career, Police Jobs, Police Reserve Certification Standards, Police Reserve Liability, Police Reserve Screening, Police Reserve Training, Uncategorized

As a former police chief who ran a basic criminal justice academy in Florida, I often get questions on how to become a Florida certified and trained reserve or auxiliary police officer.  This article also covers how to become a full-time police officer or deputy sheriff.  Florida has been one of the more progressive states in mandating training standards for folks who serve on a volunteer or part-time basis with police and sheriff’s offices throughout the Sunshine State.

Florida Highway Patrol cruiser

Among the state agencies that use volunteer cops are the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Municipal police department and county sheriff’s offices have also long embraced the concept that is the ultimate in community policing as it puts the police in the community and the community in the police.

Varied State Standards & Titles

State certification and training standards vary greatly around the United States.  Some states have little or no oversight over non-full-time officers or vastly differentiate the mandate.  Other states have strong rules and in some cases, such as Arizona and North Carolina, require the same training as that expected of full-timers.

Titles also vary widely reflecting local preferences.  Some of the names used for volunteer and part-time law enforcers around the country include reserve, auxiliary, special, supernumerary, and intermittent.

Florida Reserves & Auxiliaries: Differences

In Florida, reserves and auxiliaries are given two distinctly codified titles with divergent training mandates.  Reserve police officers and deputy sheriffs, under 943 of the Florida statutes, are trained to the same level as that of their full-time, salaried counterparts.  As a fully certified (trained and sworn in) law enforcer, the reserve and full-time law enforcement professional both have a minimum of 770 hours of basic law enforcement academy training at a Florida approved training facility.  Most of them are housed within the community college system including the one I ran at Seminole Community College, located North of Orlando in Sanford, FL.

Once they pass the State Officer Certification Exam (SOCE) and are sworn in by a hiring agency, reserves in Florida, unless administratively restricted by their police chief or sheriff, have the same authority to carry firearms and enforce the law as a full-time law enforcer.  They can carry firearms off duty.  The training mandated by the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC) and enforced by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is the same whether the officer is paid all of the time, part of the time, or none of the time.

Auxiliaries in Florida have authority while on duty and under the supervision of a fully state certified law enforcer (reserve or full-time).  This state mandate is subject to interpretation by local police chiefs and sheriffs.  For example, the Florida Highway Patrol allows its auxiliary state troopers to use marked FHP cruisers solo as long as the supervision takes place via the radio.

Florida auxiliary officers, deputies, and troopers have a current minimum training mandate of 319 hours.  Again, the training must be taken within an approved basic academy setting.  It includes some of the same “high liability” (as it is called in Florida) courses taught to fully certified officers including 80 hours for firearms, 80 hours for defensive tactics, and 40 hours for first aid.  The 48 hour vehicle operations course is open to local discretion and may be eliminated for a 271 hour total training requirement.  Most include the vehicle operations component.

Florida State Screening Standards

Minimum screening standards for all criminal justice officers across the state of Florida are uniform.  Local agencies are welcome to apply stricter criteria for hire, but may not lower the entrance hurdles.  These are standards that apply to the hiring, as well as the acceptance into training programs in academies.

Pursuant to Florida Statute 943, all criminal justice sworn personnel (full-time, reserve, and auxiliary law enforcement, corrections, and corrections probation) must meet the base following base standards in order to be admitted into an approved criminal justice academy and to be eligible for hire (volunteer or paid):

  1. High School diploma or GED for Law Enforcement or Corrections. Bachelors degree for Corrections Probation
  2. Citizen of the United States
  3. Pass Florida Basic Abilities Test (FBAT/CJBAT)
  4. As per Florida Statute 943.13 (4), no felony is allowed.  That includes guilty, no contest (nolo contendre), conviction, and adjudication withheld.
  5. No misdemeanor if a person pleads guilty, no contest, or is convicted of a misdemeanor crime involving perjury or false statement.
  6. No dishonorable discharge from the armed forces of the United States.
  7. Pass a Physical Exam

 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement oversees and inspects the approved training academies for law enforcement, corrections, and corrections probation.  Here is a list they keep up of State of Florida Criminal Justice Training Centers.  The state agency also oversees the certification of criminal justice officers.  Here is the link: How to Become a Certified Officer in Florida.

Are Florida training standards OK compared to most other states?  I certainly think that the state has been progressive in its approach.  The answer is yes.

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Tasers & Reserve Officers on The Cop Doc Radio Show

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : May 18, 2011 11:33 am : Police Reserve Liability, Police Reserve Training, Police Reserves & Taser, The Cop Doc Radio Show Reserve Segments, Uncategorized

Tom Smith, Taser International Chairman

A few police chiefs and even more police reserve officers have lost their jobs over Taser controversies that erupted in their communities. Hailed by some as a useful law enforcement tool that avoids escalating situations and officer, as well as suspect, injuries, the device has also been derided as a torture device by groups including Amnesty International. Sheriffs, Police chiefs and aspiring law enforcement executives, as well as police reserve officers, increasingly need to ponder the role that Taser can take within their department’s response to resistance.

Steve Tuttle, Taser International Vice President

Taser Titans will be talking to law enforcers and non-police folks alike when Taser International chairman Tom Smith and vice president Steve Tuttle are guests for the full hour on The Cop Doc Radio Show on Thursday, May 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm eastern time. The two men are part of the orignal team of six that founded the company. The Cop Doc Radio Show Taser Titans show is also available on demand at the show link and as downloadable podcasts on Apple iTunes.

Taser X2

Hosted by police expert former police chief Dr. Richard Weinblatt, The Cop Doc, the radio show will showcase a balanced look at the Taser and why it has become an electrifying lightning rod for local police chiefs and sheriffs. Also discussed will be new innovations and products including the Taser X2, described by Steve Tuttle as a customer driven and designed product.

Taser International, based in Scottsdale, AZ, is the largest of the electronic control device (ECD) firms and provides products to the law enforcement, military, and public.  The radio show is being publicized to police chiefs, reserve officers, and others in order to encourage discussion and dispel misunderstandings.

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Police Job Applicants Arrested: Sex, Drugs, and Jail

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : May 17, 2011 3:55 pm : Police Career, Police Jobs, Police Reserve Screening, Uncategorized

Child Porn Just Doesn't Work for Aspiring Police Officer

Whether you are a full-time or reserve police officer or deputy sheriff job applicant, this cautionary tale is for you.  A recent story out of California about a San Diego Police job application and its jail bound author reminded me of the wide variety of folks that inexplicably apply to become a law enforcement officer.

Many do not deserve to make it through the process.  Thankfully usually, honorable police executives do their best to weed people out that have no business being placed in a position of public trust.

According to published reports, Robert Williams admitted on the questionnaire to have had sexual contact with a child, as well as having viewed child pornography.  As a former police chief and police academy director, I have long advised aspiring reserve and full-time law enforcers to be honest and forthright in answering all questions in the police hiring process.  Of course, any omissions in our business is also considered a lie.

And so, here is San Diego Police officer candidate Robert Williams who gets busted for what is apparently a track record of abhorrent sex crimes involving children.  Search warrant results, along with statements from his others, helped to seal his being charged.

Amazing that he would put himself in that place.  Before anyone misreads that statement, I am not commenting on his honesty.  I guess I should commend it (though it does seem a tad bit stupid – forgetting that he should not have done the crime to begin with).  Rather, my head shaking stems from the fact that someone with this sort of alleged activity would think that they would be police officer material.

Before you think that this is unusual, a couple of other police applicant arrested stories…

Marijuana and the Police Job Applicant do not mix.

Here’s a story that I have shared with police academy cadets eager for their chance to pin on the coveted badge.  A few years back, a young man sat down in front of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department oral review panel in Nevada.  Admitting honorably that he was nervous as the interview board went about their questioning, things seem initially to be going well.  Here is the basic jist of what transpired.

Interviewer: “When is the last time you smoked Marijuana?”

Applicant: “Before this interview.  I was nervous, so I needed something to calm my nerves.”

Interviewer: “Next.”

Again, not the exception.  I remember in one agency that worked for, I was in charge of some areas including ride-alongs for members of the community interested in law enforcement.  Civilian ride-alongs, as is the policy with most law enforcement agencies, have to fill out and sign a liability waiver and undergo a cursory background check. 

A young man who was a criminal justice major college student filled out the paperwork and application requesting the rife-along.  He seemed sincere in his interests and stated that he wanted to go into law enforcement.  I ran the usual checks and, as we say in the biz, got a “hit.” for a warrant for misdemeanor FTA (Failure to Appear in court on a previous charge).

So, I called up this young man and told him to come down to the station as his ride-along was ready for him.  He got that ride-along, only not in the front seat and it was a one way ride- to the county jail.

You would think that this serious young college student would have made sure that any warrant would be cleared up before pursuing his dream of being a cop.  Of course, you’d also think that an accused pedophile would realize that those activities could conflict with becoming a police officer.

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The Original Homeland Security Force: Police Reserves

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : May 16, 2011 11:08 am : Classic Police Reserves, Featured, Police Reserve Duties, Police Reserve Homeland Security, Police Reserve Importance, Uncategorized

Polcie Reserves Protect the Community

On the heels of recent disasters (such as in the tornadoes in Alabama and floods in Louisiana) and terrorists alerts (following Osama bin Laden’s death during his encounter with U.S. Navy SEALS) that have dominated the headlines, police and sheriffs reserves have answered the call.   And they have done so for decades.

They are the original “homeland security” protection force. Long before homeland security became the new catch phrase and the latest law enforcement trend, citizen officers volunteered with little fanfare. Their buzzword was “reserves.”

For a decade (from 1991-2001), I authored a column called “Reserve Reports” for Law and Order: The Magazine for Police Management. Some of my columns published years ago highlight my position that the non-compensated pioneers in police and sheriff’s agencies across the nation long ago pioneered the homeland security trail. Some of the old column titles tell the story even back then: “Beyond Hurricanes: Riots, Bombings are 21st Century Reserve Duties” (in the May 2000 issue) and “Discovering a Valuable Asset: Reserve Search and Rescue Units” (from the May 1999 edition). I covered the same topics in my “Reserve Power” columns for Officer.com (from 2005-2006).

Historic Reserve Duties

Known variously as reserve, auxiliary, special, supernumerary, intermittent and host of other names, volunteer officers have run the gamut in terms of their “hiring” agency’s screening, training and deployment philosophy (ranging from unarmed “eyes and ears” with a distinctly different uniform to fully academy and state certified, armed sworn officer status). However, one concept has remained constant no matter how a law enforcement organization chooses to use their reserves: they all involve citizens looking to protect their neighbors from threats to the country and their local communities.

Certain areas of the country have embraced the reserve concept wholeheartedly. Places like California, Florida, and North Carolina have ramped up the screening and training to mirror the standards applied to their full-time counterparts. Others, such as Delaware, have backed away from the volunteer officer role.

There are  a few examples out there that show a direct involvement in stereotypical homeland security efforts. According to my book, Reserve Law Enforcement in the United States and an article I did for Law and Order on reserve state troopers, Vermont (one of only a half-dozen states that use non-full-time troopers), armed auxiliary state troopers help with border issues in their 27 patrol boats, 30 snowmobiles and four ATVs. Auxiliary troopers in the marine unit patrol Lake Champlain.

Such obvious homeland security related duties are not just restricted to the United States. In Canada, auxiliary constables attached to the British Columbia unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) take part in programs such as Coastal Watch and Airport Watch. Like many agencies, the RCMP are concerned with stretched resources in the face of policing demands.

One of my colleagues in the small world of reserve law enforcement research underscores my contention that the new community volunteers are really related to the old citizen-based initiatives of years gone by. In his recent book, Citizens Defending America: From Colonial Times to the Age of Terrorism (University of Pittsburg Press), Dr. Martin Greenberg quite accurately frames the historical context of reserve type involvement.

Police Reserve Evolution

Reserves have evolved over the years. Spurred partly by liability concerns, reserve policing has grown in sophistication from the simplicity of the night watch with its hue and cry and the ruggedness of the frontier posse.

Reserves came to prominence following a civil defense (CD) model during World War II.  Many career officers went to the foreign battlefields, law and order at the homeland became the purview of reserve type personnel.  Massachusetts still has ties to the civil defense model.

In New Jersey, the Garden State’s civil defense volunteer force has morphed into the Auxiliary Police concept under local municipal control with oversight under Emergency Management and the New Jersey State Police.  Auxiliary Police officers (unlike unarmed Class I. and armed Class II. part-time special law enforcement officers – SLEO) may not be compensated and are oriented to emergency augmentation of full-time police officers.  Communities along the New Jersey shore primarily are the ones that hire SLEOs.

Reserve and Full-time Animosity

Any honest look at the history and current state of reserves reveals that they have become steeped in controversy and are looked down upon by full-time officers in some agencies. While there are a host of reasons for the animosity (you can see two blunt articles addressing those issues on this website: Why Some Cops Hate Reserves: A Crack in the Police Family and The Flip Side: Why Some Reserves Hate Cops) most law enforcers agree that the priority of homeland security in the police mission is best accomplished with the help of dedicated citizens.

Nowhere has the impact of homeland security mandates been felt more than in smaller, rural agencies. Strapped for manpower, they have turned to reservists. Rural departments from West to East have tested this theory out in the real world.

Tim Dees, Officer.com’s former editor, found this out a few years ago first-hand when he oversaw training for the State of Oregon in an area that encompassed vast stretches. As he relayed to me, “The departments were very small and reserve officers were essential to getting the job done.”

Dees, a former full-time police officer in Reno, Nevada, correctly found that rural areas rely even more than urbanized locales for reserve support in the protection of the populace. “In many cases it was a question of being able to get an officer there at all.”

That’s not a recent development. In a March-April 1997 Sheriff Magazine cover story article I wrote, “Sheriffs Take on Rural Patrol Challenge,” I cited several counties with far-flung population centers that utilize reserves. Alabama’s Shelby County and Santa Fe County, New Mexico, use reserve deputies to extend the reach of the agency. In California, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s reserves staff everything from patrol units to search and rescue in one of the larger programs in the U.S.

Reserves, then as now, are the hidden weapon in the homeland security force. Recruited, screened, trained, and deployed in a quality-driven manner, reserve officers can be a powerful addition to a law enforcement agency’s arsenal. They’ve been doing long before homeland security became the latest law enforcement trend. I expect they’ll continue in their original role.

NOTE: This article was updated and adapted by me for PoliceReserveOfficer.com from my original article that appeared on Officer.com (November 22, 2005).

— Dr. Richard Weinblatt, The Cop Doc 

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Police Reserves on The Cop Doc Radio Show

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : May 4, 2011 10:24 pm : Police Reserve Duties, Police Reserve Importance, Police Reserve Liability, Police Reserve Line of Duty Death, Police Reserve Recruitment, Police Reserve Screening, Police Reserve Training, The Cop Doc Radio Show Reserve Segments, Uncategorized

David M. Rayburn, lieutenant colonel (ret.), Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary & President, VLEOA

Police Reserve Officers are the featured topic discussing why they go down that dark, scary alley for free on The Cop Doc Radio Show on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm eastern time.  Hosted by police expert former police chief Dr. Richard Weinblatt, The Cop Doc, the show has featured a myriad of arresting guests and topics on police, crime, and safety issues.

Law enforcement reserves are also known by other titles including auxiliary, special, supernumerary, and intermittent depending on local rules and preferences.  They serve on a volunteer or part-time basis for police departments and sheriff’s offices across the United States and in other countries.

Quite often their work entails them going down those alleys that most people would dread. As will be described in the show: Imagine going down there as a police officer or deputy sheriff. Now imagine going down there for free.

Chief Tom Harrier, Orange County Sheriff's Office Reserve

On the expert panel for the show on volunteer and part-time law enforcement officers will be Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary lieutenant colonel (ret.) and Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Alliance (VLEOA) president David Rayburn, Orange County, FL, Sheriff’s Office Reserve chief Tom Harrier, and Framingham Police Auxiliary captain and VLEOA director Marc Spigel.

The hour long show will cover why reserves risk their lives for little or no money, relationships between reserve and full-time officers, as well as issues of recruitment, screening, training, certification, deployment, and uniforming, as well as arming of reservists.

Captain Marc Spigel, Framingham, MA, Police Auxiliary

Listen to the show live on Thursday May 5, 2011 at 7 pm EDT at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-cop-doc/2011/05/05/thecopdoc-police-reserve-officer.  Listen to the archived version or download the program at your convenience at the showpage link or from platforms such as podcasts from Apple iTunes, as well as Google-Listen, AppleCoreMedia, and PodTrapper.

There is usually a fairly active chat room and callers have called in from as far as Japan and England.  The Cop Doc Radio Show call in number is (646) 652-4259.

Frank Borelli, Officer.com Editor-in-Chief

And don’t forget to tune in to The Cop Doc Radio Show next week on May 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm EDT when the Officer.com website redesign is featured. The show will additionally cover the major law enforcement issues and news of the day.  The guests include high-profile Officer.com editor-in-chief Frank Borelli and two of his star columnists, Betsy Brantner Smith and Kevin Davis.  Be sure to listen to the Officer.com version of The Cop Doc Radio Show at this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-cop-doc/2011/05/12/thecopdoc-officer-dot-com-website-changes

Retired Sergeant Betsy Brantner Smith, Officer.com columnist & star

Kevin Davis, Officer.com columnist

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The Flip Side: Why Some Reserves Hate Cops

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : April 30, 2011 1:45 pm : Classic Police Reserves, Police Reserve Duties, Police Reserve Importance, Police Reserve Recruitment, Uncategorized

Hatred: Crushing the "other guy."

Last month’s Reserve Power for Officer.com, “Why Some Cops Hate Reserves,” was among the most read columns.  I was inundated with emails (some rather lengthy) which underscored that the topic hit a nerve with both reservists and their full-time counterparts.  This month’s column explores the flip side: why some reserves hate the full-time officers they assist.

So often we hear of full-time officers who disdain reserves within their agency.  Clearly, that struck a chord with this column’s readers.  What we hear of less often are the strong negative feelings that some reserves have towards the very officers that they are duty bound to assist.

Second Class Treatment

The main cause of much of the hard feelings is the lack of respect reserves and auxiliary type officers feel that some full-timers have for them.  For a number of reserves, that treatment by a few officers translates into a broad-brush indictment of all salaried personnel.

While it is understandable in some individual cases, it is a mistake for reserves to lump all officers into the same category of “reserve-hater.”  Much as officers do not like it when a case of police misconduct results in a blanket condemnation of all law enforcers by the public, all officers should not be considered as anti-reserve.

Many reserves can understand the need for some reserve programs to utilize hand-me-down equipment.  They can even go along with doing some less than glamorous duties to free up full-timers for more pressing needs.  But what irks them the most is the lack of respect that they get from full-time officers.

Several emails I received lamented the fact that many officers disparage them without even getting to know them as individuals.  The label “R” is almost seen (especially in some regions of the nation) as a scarlet letter.

While there are bad apples in every group (yes, even among the full-time ranks), the killer for reserves is how they are condemned as a group for the sins of a few.  Every area has tales of reserves who overstepped their bounds or otherwise abused the trust bestowed upon them when they were handed their badge.

One needs only to look at David Berkowitz, the notorious son of Sam killer, who served as an auxiliary officer with the New York City Police Department, or serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who sported an Illinois deputy sheriff badge.

But the flip side does exist as well.  At the extreme end of honorable service, many reserves have died doing their “hobby cop” (as derisively labeled by some) duties.  As evidenced in my first Reserve Power column, “The Ultimate Sacrifice,” reserves have long demonstrated their dedication to the officers and communities they serve by even laying down their lives in the line of duty.

The vast bulk of reserves serve in the in between little noticed area of good policing (much like most full-timers).  While they don’t generate a high profile or demand officers to be thanking them every minute, they also do not expect to be disrespected for doing their community service duty.

I am sad to say that many reserves in the United States walk into police services buildings where the full-timers turn their backs and ignore them.  That kind of second-class treatment does not create a warm and fuzzy feeling on the part of reserves towards the law enforcement profession.  As a result of such unprofessional treatment, I have seen reserves quit with a very sour taste in their mouths concerning the world of policing.

Silent Majority

While it varies from region to region and department to department, I believe that the majority of law enforcement officers appreciate the work of reserves.  Many an officer, including your truly, served as a reserve prior to becoming a full-time law enforcement officer.

One would hope that these officers would stand up to defend individual reserves at the slightest hint of mistreatment.  Sadly, in many cases they do not.  I encourage full-timers to stand up and defend the good, hard-working reserves that are not being shown the proper respect.

In this age of community policing, reserves are the ultimate ambassadors to the neighborhood.  As recruiters know, it is hard to find good officers and reserves.  It does not make sense to run them off after they’ve been screened, trained and deployed.

As the last column mentioned, many problems stem from organizational issues concerning that screening, training, and deployment.  Given that issues may be present in a given organization, it seems to be unprofessional to take that out on the reserves that are fulfilling the agency’s mandate. 

The silent majority needs to stand up and back up those reserves that are truly a help to, and a part of, the law enforcement family.  There are enough people out there that dislike law enforcers for there to be hatred in the family.

NOTE: The preceding was a column I wrote for Officer.com (March 6, 2006) when I was their “Reserve Power” columnist. While the information on police reserve officers is classic, it is still useful today. You should also check out the first part of this column called “Why Some Cops Hate Reserves: A Crack in the Police Family.”

— Dr. Richard Weinblatt, The Cop Doc

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Why Some Cops Hate Reserves: A Crack in the Police Family

Dr. Richard Weinblatt : April 30, 2011 1:31 pm : Classic Police Reserves, Police Reserve Duties, Police Reserve Importance, Police Reserve Recruitment, Uncategorized

A crack in the police wall.

We’ve all heard the names at one time or another: “rent-a-cop,” “wannabe,” “2.5,” as well as a host of other derogatory terms. There has long been a sense of friction between reserve and full-time officers in many departments. That animosity rises to the level of hate and is more pronounced in certain regions of the country. This “Reserve Power” column examines why such negativity abounds.

Some of the negativity is just downright mean-spirited and emanates unreasonably from a faction of officers in many departments. However, some of the problems could be curtailed if certain details are attended to in the reserve program. In my experience on all sides of the reserve fence (as a reserve, a full-time officer/reserve liaison, and as a police chief having formed a reserve officer program), it appears that the dislike comes from several different areas.

Political appointees

Law enforcers across the country, with their low tolerance for things that do not seem quite right, withdraw their informal support when reserves find their way to a badge and gun on a political basis. While political appointees are not bad in and of themselves (they can be a powerful advocate for the chief or sheriff with certain key constituencies), the swearing-in of those individuals that could not otherwise meet the entrance and training standards irks full-time officers.

Officers view themselves as an elite cadre of professionals and resent those who enter their domain without the proper “ticket of admission.”

Low standards

Related to the first category, reserve type officers that are appointed while not meeting the high standards applied to full-timers, isolates the reserve group. Officers look to other officers as their lifeline in times of trouble. Full-timers need the reassurance of equivalent standards for entry and training in their reserve backup force.

Entrance standards should reflect those applied to full-timers. Anything less encourages the derisive “wannabe” label as “those officers are of a class that could make it through the full-time standards.” Even if the individual could meet those rigorous standards but chooses not to due to economic and career choices, the lack of those standards being applied to the reserve paints him or her as not measuring up.

On the training front, an agency truly committed to the reserve concept, should, while not lowering their standards, make it easier for those interested in serving their community to achieve the benchmark. For example, basic academy training should be scheduled in a manner that meets the needs of most working adults.

Separation

Sometimes, organizational structure can contribute to the discord. Departments that isolate their reserve contingent further widen the chasm that exists between reservists and full-time officers. Reserves are often relegated to the bowels of the agency (such as the basement) and are not integrated into the patrol shifts. Engaging in separate briefings and patrol stints from the regulars neither provides a learning nor collaborative environment for reserves or full-timers.

Going even a step further, an organizational chart that places the reserve operation far away from the patrol branch of the agency, traditionally the place where most reserve activity occurs, isolates the volunteer badge carriers.

I often saw, particularly in the Northeast, volunteers referred to as an “officer” in the “auxiliary police” instead of as an “auxiliary officer” in the “police department.” The former distances the auxiliary officer, while the latter fosters a department-wide inclusive approach.

Distinctive uniforms

Beyond the officer safety issue, differentiated uniform and vehicle markings widen the schism between the two types of law enforcers. Officers view their reserves as being less of an officer and that perception is reinforced by the differentiated appearance.

Many departments have told me over the years of instances where reserves were specifically targeted by protesters and others with the thought that it would be easier to get them angry than a regular officer. The distinctive uniform made that focus possible. A few departments even changed the uniforms to more closely or identically resemble the full-timers’ version as a result of undue problematic attention to their reserve personnel.

Rank insignia

Speaking of uniforms, many officers I have spoken to over the years looked down on the presence of rank insignia on reserve officers. While a chain of command and supervisory positions within a reserve group is good, the visible ranks confuse the public and cause resentment on the part of full-timers.

Both full-time and reserve officers have reported to me the confusion that occurs on a scene when, for example, a reserve captain pulls up and the citizen leaves the primary officer to go talk to “the boss.” Worse yet, some civilians have been known to register complaints on officers with the gold laden reserve that arrives on scene.

Some departments, particularly larger ones where many officers do not know each other personally, delineate reserve rank by using unobtrusive uniform insignia such as colored bands on the epaulet or a different serial number on the badge

Fear of job encroachment

In many agencies, particularly those that do not have a lot of calls for police service, salaried officers fear that reserves may encroach of their tasks and thus jeopardize their jobs. While this fear is usually unfounded, there have been cases where governmental entities have misused their reserve programs. In a short-sighted move, they have used volunteer officers to replace full-timers. This is contrary to the concept of reserves which is to augment regular personnel.

Unfortunately, as so often is the case, the target of the officers’ ire becomes the reserve that complies with an order, as opposed to the organization that issues the order. Thus the reserve becomes unfairly the brunt of the anger.

Regional differences

I have seen this to be the case particularly in agencies that have around a long time and have strong unions. The resentment of reserves seems particularly strong in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

Some of the animosity is driven by the presence of unions and traditions steeped in the history of the departments’ histories. On the other hand, reserves are more integrated and accepted in Western states and in the Southeast.

Interestingly, reserves in many of the states where acceptance by full-timers is highest have state standards or POST commissions that set equal or similar hiring and training standards for full-timers and reserves. Along the same lines, the reserves are equipped and deployed on a basis that mirrors their salaried counterparts.

With all of the people in society who do not have law enforcement officers on their Christmas card list, it seems silly to have fighting within the station house. The majority of the animosity rises out of misunderstandings and a less than sophisticated rollout of the reserve program. Reserves that are recruited, trained, and deployed in a professional manner should be a welcome addition to the police family. They should not be relegated to the role of black sheep of the family.

NOTE: The preceding was a column I wrote for Officer.com (February 6, 2006) when I was their “Reserve Power” columnist. While the information on police reserve officers is classic, it is still useful today. You should also check out the second part of this column called “The Flip Side: Why Some Reserves Hate Cops.”

— Dr. Richard Weinblatt, The Cop Doc

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