Sunday, December 9, 2012

A step up from citizen police academies

When I lived in Colorado in the 1970s, I was a member of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Posse. It was a real "posse", not one that was a political fundraiser. There were no license plate frames or window decals that a driver might hope would "help" him if he got stopped.

The Posse was a trained and sworn part of the sheriff's department. The only differences between full-time deputies and reserve deputies were the color of the trousers, the shoulder patch and badge, and the fact that every two weeks we did not get a paycheck.

We were sworn in with the same oath administered to deputies, and we had the same powers on the street. We were armed (and qualified to be so), and we held commissions that were valid 24/7 and concealed weapons permits.

When I first joined, there were no openings in Patrol, so I was assigned to Dispatch. Mastering the phones and police radio was no problem. The only problem I incurred was the wrath of the full-time dispatchers, when I began immediately running a plate that was called in on a traffic stop. The "girls" wanted to wait until the deputy requested the clearance. I ran the plate through the computer system as soon as the deputy called it in, without waiting for his request. By doing this, I could inform the deputy more quickly if the plate was "hot".

Within a couple of months, a spot opened in Patrol, and I went there. I quickly qualified for solo car privileges, meaning that I could show up for duty, attend rollcall, collect keys to a squad car and a portable radio, and go out and "protect and serve" for eight hours.

Local police departments and our county sheriff's department could benefit from the use of trained volunteers today. Just imagine getting all the services of a cop and not having to fork out $75,000/year (plus benefits) for him (or her). Insurance carriers, cities and the county board will throw up an objection about "risk", but I say there is less risk with a "professional volunteer" than with some of the current employees.

Want proof? Just check out the lawsuits filed against the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and see whose names appear in them time after time.

There are even volunteers who would attend the Illinois State Police Training Academy at their own expense. How is that for commitment? A Department could provide reimbursement over, say, a three-year period, to ease the individual's financial commitment.

In Colorado we bought our own uniforms, leather, weapons and ammo. If we were in the four-wheel drive or motorcycle divisions of the Posse, we provided our own police-equipped vehicles, properly registered with the State of Colorado as emergency vehicles. The Department provided practice ammo at the range.

Another volunteer and I shot on the sheriff's department pistol range and regularly claimed trophies at competitions, including a state competition at the NRA range at Raton, New Mexico. A fellow member of the Posse, Steve, was a rangemaster, and one day I arrived at the range and saw his scores of 247 and 248 (out of 250). "Hmmm, Steve is shooting pretty well today."

He put me through the first set, and I managed to eek out a 250. When he told me to get my second 50 rounds, I said, "Nah, I think I'll hold on that one." I heard six months later that he was still mad that I wouldn't shoot a second string. (We're still friends - 35 years later!)


Gus said...

Liar, you say? About what?

Ray said...

Just imagine getting all the services of a cop and not having to fork out $75,000/year (plus benefits) for him (or her)

And while imagining that ... imagine the nearly limitless liability that Gus would present as a "free" cop.

I would invite all of the officers here to chime in about how they would feel with Gus as their backup, nightmarish, eh?

Maverick50 said...

Ray, I can tell by your responses, intelligent comments are not your strong point!
I feel Gus has brought up some very good ideas. He has also giving us cause to doubt the competence of people that are working for us (police force, politicians ect). He has also reported news of compassion. Try looking on the positive side once and add something of value.

Gus said...

Thanks, Maverick.

Ray said...

Wow, Mav ... I didn't think I would see the day that someone sucked up to Gus.

You say that Gus has given us cause to doubt the competence of ... etc etc, blah blah ...oh I thought he just repeated what he heard ... I must have missed the careful analysis which lent itself to the convincing argument with regard to ... whatever he blogs ...

I don't add anything of value? Please stop, you are going to offend my delicate sense of self worth .... really you are hilarious, I mean really really hilarious.