As I continue to discuss the duties and responsibilities of the sheriff, one group of officers provide an incredible amount of dedicated volunteer hours to our community, with minimal cost to the sheriff: The sheriff’s reserve unit. Similar to a modern day sheriff’s posse, sheriff reserve officers serve the department and community, conducting many of the tasks of a regular sheriff’s deputy, all without a salary.
In fact, the reserves saved the sheriff’s office more than $300,000 with 5,408 hours of volunteer service they provided in 2012. With an increasing number of calls-for-service for the sheriff’s office, and a tight financial county budget, the reserves provide an invaluable service.
Currently, the sheriff’s office has 21 reserve officers. Elkhart County is known as the first sheriff’s reserve units in the state. Often viewed as a model for other units in the state, the sheriff’s reserves are very professional and keep the standard high. Several reserve officers have received the president’s volunteer service awards. My reserves are highly trained and provide eight hours or more of service every month.
Each reserve officer has the authority of a regular sheriff’s deputy. Reserves offer their services in the areas of administration of the unit, the sheriff’s dive team, crash investigation team and motorcycle unit; as field-training officers and police instructors, regular patrol duties, serving in the corrections facility, and assisting or coordinating special events. The largest special event is the traffic control and security assistance at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.
The Reserve unit serves in more than normal and routine tasks of a sheriff. As sheriff, I can call the citizens of the county to aid in an emergency. The reserve unit allows for a highly trained “posse” to be ready and able to respond in a moment’s notice to support my regular deputies, area police agencies and our community, regardless of the emergency.
I desire to continue the expansion of the reserve program. If you are at least 21 years of age (no upper age limit), a United States citizen, have a high school diploma or equivalent, a valid driver’s license and reside in Elkhart County, you may be eligible to begin the selection process for becoming a reserve officer. The selection process involves a test of grammar, spelling, math and sentence structure, an in-person and home interview, financial assessment, physical fitness assessment, character background investigation and a drug screen. All equipment and training are provided to successful candidates.