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by Peter Moskos

April 14, 2015

"Who gave this reserve cop a gun?"

Uh, it's his own gun. But headline aside (writers don't write the headline), I like to think I make some good points in this CNN piece about Robert Bates, the Tulsa County "reserve deputy" who thought his gun was a Taser and shot and killed a criminal.


Dave in IL said...

Good piece, Peter. However, I was just reminded why I've been trying not to read the comments on the news sites. When I do that, I have to reassure myself: "People are basically good. This yammering is not representative of most decent, thinking people," etc. Incidentally, I have to do the same thing after particularly warped nights at work.

CollegeCop said...

That article seems to have a bit of the 'eastern' bias. In other parts of the country, Fully trained, licensed armed volunteers (Reserve Officers) work along side Regulars with no problem. It's only in the east where unarmed 'auxiliary' police really exist to the best of my knowledge.

This is the reason you rarely hear anything about reserves is that they just don't tend to get into a lot of trouble, even in places that use them in regular patrol functions.

I started my career as a Reserve for a rural town 18 years ago, some nights I've be the only officer on duty, and many times I was one of only a few minority officers on duty, because of inter-agency agreements I'd be called in to another town to help out if the officers there thought a minority officer would calm the situation, and it usually did.

I found this police mag article that's pretty good about Reserves. Like every other division in a police force, it has to be properly managed. http://www.policemag.com/channel/careers-training/articles/2014/03/reserve-officers-for-love-of-the-job.aspx

Moskos said...

I do have an East Coast bias. Sorry.

Are Reserve Officers really normally fully trained? I did not know that. And if so, how many hours.

Somebody else wrote me to say they were trained equally. And in Oklahoma (until last year) they all go the full 240 hours! Could that be true? That's not enough.

And I guess my point didn't come across (since I heard from a few testy reserve cops) but I actually wrote the article (in part) to defend such programs. I spend a few paragraphs saying how it's a good idea, did I not? Clearly I failed in my mission somehow.

I just wanted to say this guy shouldn't have been on the force. And it's a horrible concept when you can pay to play cop.

CollegeCop said...

240 hours for someone with full law enforcement powers and responsibility is indeed not enough.

My state does have a reserve license, but there are only 184 licensees out of more than 76,000 peace officers http://www.tcole.texas.gov/content/current-statistics.

Most "Reserves" in Texas are actually "unpaid regular peace officers" who work 16 hours per month minimum and have been though the full ride (state mandated 620 hours + whatever the department adds). I was never licensed as a reserve, I was an unpaid regular, "reserve" is just the term people still use.

Unlike eastern 'auxiliaries', in the south and southwest reserves tend to be a lot more invovled in actual police work like patrol. I know of several larger agencies that use reserve investigators to delve into cold cases.

Still, even if Oklahoma has low standards (I don't know, but I'll bet OK doesn't have many licensed reserves either), how many times have you heard of a Reserve involved. IACP's VIP project says their are 244,000 police volunteers of the various types, and those volunteers don't make th news very often. This one screw up in OK is just that, one screw up.

CollegeCop said...

And jsut as i finished typing that I learned from a buddy on skyp who was an Oklahoma Reserve that their are 3000 of them, trained at 240 hours minimum. Still, you do't hear a lot about them, but 240 is too low.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a place for reserves in limited roles in small agencies, but Tulsa? Seriously? They need a 73 year old reserve cop on a high liability violent task force caper? That is some crazy stuff... Lose the reserve program Tulsa. At 400,000 you are ten times too big to need a reserve program. Nice article Pete. This was another black eye for law enforcement that we didn't need.