Reserves help law enforcement

Published 6:40 pm Monday, October 13, 2008

It’s refreshing to see the Alabama State Troopers reserve program’s numbers up. That is thanks to a recruiting drive that has boosted the ranks of reserve officers joining Alabama state troopers on patrols and in administrative work.

The Department of Public Safety has had a trooper reserve unit for years, but it was almost inactive and had at one point dropped to three members.

There are now 59 reservists in the newly revitalized statewide unit, with members ranging from those in their early 20s to retirees.

Candidates have to qualify with a firearm and pass a physical. Applicants must be at least 21 and U.S. citizens. They must volunteer at least 16 hours a month. DPS spokeswoman Martha Earnhardt said other DPS departments have expressed interest in having reservists. “We think we will see further expansion of the program,” Earnhardt said in an Associated Press story.

Reserve programs like this one with state troopers are common with law enforcement agencies. Here in Chilton County, all law enforcement agencies have a reserve program. Each reserve program consists of numerous officers who put their lives on the line to help our local departments fight crime and assist the public.

This is a way for officers to gain experience and training for those who want to become full-time employees. While they don’t have the power to arrest people like regular officers, the reserve officers can assist police departments and ride along with regular officers. Reserve officers are volunteers and, thus, are not paid. So that means the departments can get help without having to hire a new employee.

While a reserve program won’t solve all of the staffing problems in law enforcement, the extra help is certainly welcome.

We thank everyone who dedicates the time to become a reserve police officer. We know it is difficult on you, but your time helps our community stay safe.