Unpaid patrol officers fill need, gain experience

File Photo
File Photo

GREENWOOD, Ind. (AP) — A Greenwood man will work nights and weekends for free for at least the next several months, but his goal is for a future career.

Adam Bandy, 25, wants to be a full-time police officer, but he’ll work for free first.

Bandy is one of the Greenwood Police Department’s five reserve officers and is in training to patrol Greenwood’s streets. He’ll work as much as he can until he’s fully trained, and after that he’ll work regular shifts as a road officer when he’s available.

The department started its reserve officer program this year, going through about 50 applications to fill four positions. The department had a reserve program more than 20 years ago, and Chief John Laut brought it back this year to get backup help because the department couldn’t afford to hire more full-time officers, the Daily Journal reported.

The difference between Bandy’s job as a reserve officer and a full-time patrol officer is that Bandy won’t be paid, and he will only work as he has time.

This year, Bandy will do field training, driving a patrol car with a veteran Greenwood officer. The veteran will teach him, for example, how to lecture fighting couples on problem resolution, how to file a police report and how to block traffic correctly so cars can’t drive through a crash scene, Assistant Chief Matthew Fillenwarth said.

When Bandy and one other reserve officer are qualified to work regular 12-hour shifts, they will be assigned cars and will stop speeding motorists and respond to 911 calls with the paid officers.

But since he’s an unpaid volunteer, Bandy also will keep his job at the Johnson County jail and serve as a reserve officer after work.

The police department will pay at least $3,000 per reserve patrol officer for gear such as a bulletproof vest, Taser, gun and winter and summer uniforms. Reserve officers do not get paid or receive benefits, such as health insurance, through the police department.

Bandy wants to work as many 12-hour shifts as he can once he’s trained, he said. The training and experience will get him a full-time job as a patrolman somewhere, hopefully in Greenwood, Bandy said.

For a year or so, Bandy and the other reserve patrol officer, Charles Moyer of Camby, will work full-time jobs and spend nights and weekends training with the Greenwood police. Currently, they can only direct traffic.

His work as a reserve officer will provide experience with the equipment and, he hopes, the people he will be working with long term, Bandy said.

Having two jobs — at the jail and as a reserve officer — is worth it to him because of the experience and the service he’ll be able to offer the community, he said.

“As a police officer, you’re born to do it or you’re not,” Bandy said. “It’s like an overall win because you’re volunteering your time, and you’re improving the community at the same time.”

Bandy and Moyer will be patrol officers. Two other reserve officers are part-time, paid guards at city hall. The city hall guards are retired Greenwood police officers, and they work as reserves when asked.

The reserve officer program won’t help the police department much for several years, Fillenwarth said. A paid officer works 160 hours in a pay cycle, while a reserve may end up working 24 hours. A volunteer can’t come close to replacing a full-time position, he said.

“That’s one thing we don’t have, and that’s help around here. We’ll take what we can get,” Fillenwarth said.

All of the reserves will have the power to make arrests, even when they’re not working, just like full-time officers, Fillenwarth said. The reserve officers are approved by the police merit board like other officers, and their training will make them qualified to make arrests if needed. If angry residents carry a weapon into city hall, the reserve officer on duty could arrest them.

The current watch commander in the police station lobby is also a reserve officer who is able to carry a gun and make arrests, though his paid duties are as a civilian, writing police reports for residents who come into the police station to report non-emergencies, such as an abandoned car in a neighborhood, and doing fingerprinting for background checks.

Bandy and Moyer are the only reserves who don’t also work paid jobs for the city.

“Everybody helps. Right now, the reserve program is pretty darn small, and it’s not much of a supplement,” Fillenwarth said. “Our goal right now is just to get it going.”

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Information from: Daily Journal, http://www.dailyjournal.net

 

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