Blaine police department to train more reserve officers
Blaine police department may have a temporary solution
to its staffing issues.
Starting this week, officers will begin training six Blaine auxiliary officers to become volunteer reserve officers, assisting other officers with non-emergency calls, guarding crime scenes, traffic control, and other time-consuming work that could take primary officers away from more urgent issues.
“They’re extra eyes and ears out there,” said officer Jim Glover, who
helped organize the program and volunteered several hours of overtime without pay to help train the candidates. “In that sense, it would definitely be helping out.”
In addition, the department will train four candidates for the Whatcom County sheriff’s department as well as one candidate for the Whatcom County fire marshal’s office.
Glover said reserve officers have the same arrest powers as a full-time officer during their shift. However, they must be accompanied by a full-time officer and have no arrest authority off-duty.
To earn certification, candidates must pass a rigorous screening process that includes a background check, physical agility test, written test and interview with Blaine police officers, as well as the completion of 220 hours of training approved by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Coalition.
Glover said although the minimum number of training hours is 220, Blaine police will require 290 hours to include such additional topics as radar, K-9 units and domestic violence training.
“We just added a few that are specific to our needs here in Blaine,” he said.
Glover said while the full cost of the program has yet to be determined by the number of hours billed for each instructor, he expects it to be between $4,000 and $6,000.
That figure could be even lower if the department is able to secure grant funding from the Washington State Police Chiefs Association, chief Mike Haslip said.
Haslip added that all the Blaine officers involved with the program have volunteered their overtime without pay to train the reserve candidates to help cut costs.
Glover said once on staff, the eight new reserve officers could easily become full-time officers with the completion of additional training at one of two Washington state law enforcement training academies in Burien or Spokane.
“Most reserves end up going full-time and almost all of our reserves have been hired by either us or other agencies,” he said.
Training is expected to continue until early 2007. Once completed, the department will require a minimum of 48 hours every three months.
In the meantime, Glover said residents might notice large number of officers around town acting differently.
“There’s going to be times when we’re out practice training with these reserves throughout Blaine so there may be times when the public sees 20 of us and think something’s going on,” he said. “One night we might be training by the school or we might be training by Cost Cutter, but they shouldn’t be alarmed.”
Sergeant King added: “We have to have realistic scenarios and for
those to be carried out, we have to have realistic places for them to happen.”