Starke County reserve captain Joe Reed says the program lets residents help out the Sheriff’s Department on a part-time basis, “It’s bringing in people from the community maybe that would like to do police work but are not able to because they have other jobs. Maybe they’ve taken other career paths, and they really enjoy police work. The sheriff invests quite a bit of time in them, hundreds of hours of training to get them prepared to do police work. They don’t do exactly the same calls necessarily as a police officer would do to a full extent, but they do have full arrest powers through the state of Indiana.”
Sheriff Bill Dulin says the program’s a big help, “It provides better visibility. It provides more cars that are on the road, quicker response times as we have more officers on the road, and it provides backup for full-time officers – we usually have three or four on in a shift. It provides better coverage in Koontz Lake, San Pierre, Ober, Ora, and Bass Lake.”
Reserve members go through more than 400 hours of training as they move through the program’s different levels. So far, the program’s had one class of four officers complete training and become full reserve officers. Reed says it’s already leading to some noticeable improvements, “There’s a good example this weekend where we had coverage on: I know we had a response time of a residential alarm – we were there within one minute because we had extra coverage on. I know there was a reserve officer that spent over two hours patrolling nothing but Koontz Lake, and I know there was another reserve officer that spent over two hours in San Pierre, where a full-time officer might not have the ability to spend that much time in one place. So it really gives better coverage for the county.”
Sheriff Dulin says the reserve program allows his department to do more with fewer resources, “The reason why we’re kind of pushing for this is, budgetary-wise, we’re kind of limited on our access as far as officers and how much officers we can ask for. Right now, the budget’s kind of limited in what we can do, so the reserve program is a huge, huge asset to the county, the citizens, and the Sheriff’s Department in providing police activities to the citizens.”
The sheriff says they’re looking to add five more members to the reserve program. Applicants must be over 21 with no felony on their background. Dulin says they’re looking for people who are willing to work and learn the activities provided by the reserve program.
Residents can fill out an application form at www.co.starke.in.us/forms.