Aiken and Columbia counties have been using reserves for at least 15 years.
“It’s a win-win for us,” Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said of the decision.
The option had been explored in years past, but liability was always a concern, according to Sheriff Ronnie Strength. However, after much research, the sheriff decided it was an option that would solve several issues.
“With the budget crunch, we were looking at options that would help us with manpower without hiring any additional officers,” Strength said. “This is now an option at no additional cost to the taxpayers.”
Strength said the additional manpower will put more officers in high crime areas to help answer the 252,000 calls the sheriff's office receives every year. It will also help in handling special functions that require additional officers.
The sheriff’s office has started recruiting a new team of reserves and is looking to get things running as soon as possible.
All reserves are required to be Georgia Peace Officer Standard and Training certified and volunteer with the sheriff’s office for at least 30 hours per month.
The reserves will have the same requirements and legal authority as full-time sworn officers but will volunteer for free.
Training expenses will not be covered by the sheriff’s office.
“What we’re looking at are people who have already been in law enforcement who, for whatever reason, are (working elsewhere now) and miss the camaraderie,” Gay said. “We think those people would be a valuable asset to reducing the amount of crime that is occurring and supplementing our folks in the field.”
Those interested in the position can fill out an application at the sheriff’s office at 401 Walton Way.