Clark County Sherriff’s Office in Washington has disbanded their reserve deputy volunteer program citing police reforms and increased training requirements imposed by the state.
The reserve deputy program, which began in 1952, has been a supplementary unit to full-time deputies and has prioritized its engagements with the community. However, due to new training requirement policies, departments often lack the resources to maintain training for volunteers.
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins explained the reasons for ending the program in a memo, citing training reforms for reserve personnel that are too costly an investment.
“The Criminal Justice Training Commission has considered rule making year-after-year with the intention of limiting more and more the duties and responsibilities allowed to be performed by reserve deputies and officers,” the memo read.
“This year, the newly proposed reserve officer training hour requirements, both academy and ongoing post-academy as proposed by the current CJTC commission would represent a significant investment on any agency maintaining a reserve program, and on the individual reserve deputies and officers themselves. This, along with the personal liability officers are facing in our current climate are the main reasons for my decision,” Atkins wrote.
Reserve unit commander Bob Christian was “disheartened” about the news, and is worried about the future of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
Christian disagreed with the decision to disband officers who want to give back to their community for free, especially during a time when many are leaving the force because of increased public scrutiny.
“Not many people are running toward a problem, instead of away from it,” And here you have 14 who are willing to do it for free,” he said.
According to The Colombian, the department’s reserve force used to have up to 50 commissioned reserve deputies trained by a local academy. Recently, there is no local training academy, and the reserve numbers have increasingly dwindled over time. At the time of disbanding the unit, there were 14 members.
Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Brent Waddell, who began his career as a reserve deputy, said the requirements for law enforcement are always changing, and makes keeping up with certifications and trainings challenging for volunteers who often have a day job outside of law enforcement.
According to Waddell, Clark County is the latest department to end its reserve program as agencies across the country have stopped accepting volunteers.
A statement from the deputy union read: “The Clark County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild recognizes the difficult decision which the Clark County Sheriff’s Office administration was faced with in determining the outcome of the Reserve Deputy Program. The men and women who volunteered their time in service to their community and the citizens of Clark County are humbly appreciated and will be sincerely missed. The DSG hopes for positive collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office Administration in finding ways to fill the voids created by the loss of the Reserve Deputy Program. We extend our gratitude to the years of dedicated service and commitment which the Reserve Deputies brought to our ranks.”