The St. Clair Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the hiring of two reserve officers as the first step to reinstating the police department’s reserve officer program.
Newly appointed St. Clair Police Chief Michael Wirt presented the idea to the board during its meeting Monday, July 20.
“We have had reserve officers in the past and still have a department policy in place for this program,” Wirt said in his request.
He recommended the board hire Chad Johnmeyer and Mason Mills, lifelong residents of the St. Clair area, as the first two reserve officers.
The policy allows for four officers, appointed by Wirt and presented to the board for approval, to be in the program.
Reserve officers will have to have the same certifications as the current full-time officers, but according to Wirt, will be volunteer only, not paid.
The reserve officer would be sworn in as any other officer and undergo field training. Once the training is complete, the reserve officer will be able to ride with full-time officers or patrol on their own.
The officers will be covered under the city’s insurance, and will be able to make arrests, just like any other city police officer, as they will be POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certified.
The reserve force allows younger officers who are interested in law enforcement to get involved, which could potentially lead to a hiring pool for the city and help with the department’s workload, Wirt said.
For example, reserve officers would be used to offset some of the duties the department is currently assigning full-time officers, including municipal court bailiff duty, parades, festivals, school activities, prisoner pickups and transports, public relation events and any other assignments deemed necessary by the command staff.
Once fully trained, the officers also could be utilized to fill in on road shifts, which will cut back on overtime for the full-time staff and also provide an extra person on the road to help with workload.
The department would provide the officers with in-house and outside training to assist them with maintaining their 24 hours of state-mandated continuing education units. They also would be required to take and pass all required online trainings.
Per the department’s policy, the reserve officers would be required to work a minimum of 24 hours per month to maintain their reserve status, and would be required to participate in all department annual trainings, firearm and taser qualifications, and any department trainings they are available to attend.
“An active reserve force just makes good sense for a department of this size. The benefits are many and the negatives are few,” Wirt said.