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Reserve deputies help shore up police force

Volunteer officers have jobs, work as police for free

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AIKEN --- Like many, they work hard at their jobs to bring home a paycheck. But in their spare time, they don a uniform, a badge and a weapon.

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Sgt. Chris L. Bush, a reserve officer for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, prepares to go on patrol. Reserve officers go through the same training and have the same power as career deputies.   Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Sgt. Chris L. Bush, a reserve officer for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, prepares to go on patrol. Reserve officers go through the same training and have the same power as career deputies.

At this dangerous job, they work for free.

"If there's anything you need more of, it's definitely law enforcement," said Creighton Henderson, the captain over the Reserve Deputy program at the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

The program, which has been in Aiken County since 1985, looks to its volunteers to help fill the gaps.

All reserves go through the same training as hired deputies and have the same powers and authority. Unless citizens recognized the reserve as their lawyer, doctor or beautician, they would never know it wasn't the deputy's occupation.

"We've got doctors, lawyers, company owners, right down to your everyday mill worker," Capt. Troy Elwell said. "It's surprising how many people in the community are willing to do this for nothing other than a thank you."

When Henderson isn't on patrol, he is a contractor in Aiken County. He estimates he puts in about 500 hours a year with the sheriff's office.

The state mandates that a reserve put in a minimum of 20 hours each month.

Henderson, who has volunteered for about 20 years, said he had always enjoyed law enforcement and saw it as the perfect opportunity to give back to the community.

"Most of these guys and gals have full-time jobs, so (they'll work) holidays, weekends and nights, which is when we need the most manpower we can get," Elwell said.

"It works out to everyone's advantage."

The reserves are often utilized for large-scale events, such as the fair and Steeplechase, that the sheriff's department doesn't have the manpower to do alone.

Nonprofit groups also benefit from the reserves. Rather than paying a deputy $45 per hour, a nonprofit organization can have security for free with a reserve deputy.

The reserves exclusively knock on every sex offender's door in the county and inspect every wrecker, Henderson said.

Becoming a reserve doesn't cost a cent. Everything from training to weapons is provided for free.

Currently there are about 20 reserves, Elwell said.

The sheriff's office aims to have at least 30, but because of the economy, some reserves are having to spend more time at their paying jobs and can't commit to the mandated hours.

Want to join?

To be part of the Reserve Deputy program at Aiken County Sheriff's Office, applicants:

- Must be 21 years old

- Must be a college graduate or be able to pass a test on a college level

- Must pass a background check

- Must pass a physical

- Must volunteer a minimum of 20 hours each month

Comments (6) Add comment
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Riverman1
166987
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Riverman1 03/05/11 - 08:40 am
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It would be kind of fun to be

It would be kind of fun to be able to wear a gun into the the restaurant, pull over a car now and then and maybe lock someone up for the heck of it. I've got a few in mind.

curly123053
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curly123053 03/05/11 - 09:32 am
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In my years with EMS I was

In my years with EMS I was always impressed with the professionalism of the reserve deputies. When I was on calls where law enforcement was needed it was hard to tell the difference between the paid deputy and the reserves. You could tell the reserves enjoyed doing what they were doing. It seemed the reserve deputies had a better demeanor than the paid deputies too and seemed more sociable a lot of the time. Aiken County has a good group of reserves.

oldfella
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oldfella 03/05/11 - 12:07 pm
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This sounds great. Does

This sounds great. Does Georgia have such a thing? They gave minimum age, but not a maximum age. I'm going to look into this.

follower
1433
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follower 03/05/11 - 03:36 pm
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Oldfella, CC has quite a few

Oldfella, CC has quite a few reserve deputies. And as Curly said, you can't tell the difference. It might be a great way to give back to the community.

Asitisinaug
7
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Asitisinaug 03/05/11 - 03:56 pm
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Reserve Deputy programs are

Reserve Deputy programs are excellent ways to give back to the community and Aiken County has an excellent program. Other local departments such as The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Hephzibah Police Department, Harlem Police Department, etc. all have very active reserve programs to augment their full time deputies.
These officers are the same as full time police officers with the exception of the pay. Often, as with any profession, reserves or volunteers bring a fresh perspective to the table since is it not considered monotonous or “just a job” to them.
Public Safety departments need proper funding and reserves will never be able to replace the need for police and proper funding within departments. However, reserves greatly enhance the departments in many ways and can fill in the gaps during peak times or events as needed.
Volunteer police officers, firefighters, nurses, etc. all are to be commended for giving back to their community and caring greatly about those they serve.

Oldfella, In Georgia, you can reserve within many departments. Most require that you be 21 years of age and you will need to obtain POST law enforcement certification prior to service. Some will reimburse you for POST training after a year of volunteer service whereas other have various programs to help you with your expenses. They also provide you with the required uniforms, weapon, etc. after all training is successfully completed. In order to maintain standards, you must generally volunteer a minimum of 4 shifts per month and also complete all required in-service training that full time deputies must complete each year. Some departments however due have non-certified reserves to fill in the gaps in needed areas such as information technologies, grant writing, secretarial, legal, medical, and community services.

Look for many more departments to add such programs due to budget constraints and greater demands for service from agencies. The NYPD, LAPD and other major departments all have certified and non-certified reserves working beats alone and side by side with full time officers.

TeaPartyForOurCountry
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TeaPartyForOurCountry 03/06/11 - 02:49 am
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I AM NOT SEEING THE COMMENT I

I AM NOT SEEING THE COMMENT I MADE EARLIER SO MAYBE IT DID NOT POST. I WAS TALKING ABOUT WANTING TO BECOME A RESERVE POLICEMAN SINCE I COULD HELP TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS WITH CRIMINALS AND CARRY A GUN. I WILL BE CONTACTING AIKEN ABOUT THIS. THANK YOU TO THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE WEB PAGES FOR ALL OF THE INFORMATION. I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A POLICEMAN.

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