KEARNEYSVILLE – The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will begin the second session of its Deputy Sheriff Reserve Academy next Tuesday.
Jefferson County currently has 14 Reserve Deputies, and, with their next session full to capacity with 12 students, the program is looking to expand in coming years.
The program is jointly run by Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. B. Williams and a deputy reservist, Cpl. J. Malcolm.
Williams said reserve deputies are a “force multiplier” and invaluable to the Sheriff’s Office, both for community outreach activities and for law enforcement.
Jefferson’s Reserve Academy program is unique within the state.
“In the past, a volunteer would come in and ask to get involved and we’d run a background check, just like we would do for a deputy,” he said. “We would educate them the best that we could, and then we’d just kind of give them to a senior reserve.”
That system, currently the one in use in the rest of the state, is unable to establish common standards and puts reserve deputies into real-world law enforcement situations without the training that other officers go through at the State Police Academy.
Prospective reserve deputies receive three phases of training. The first phase, which includes four hours of classroom instruction, will include an orientation and introduction to the program, as well as a basic review of officer safety. The second phase includes 94 hours of classroom instruction, as well as practical and range training, and covers fingerprinting, frisking and handcuffing, and traffic control. The final phase will include 52 hours of real world training, including ride-alongs with deputies and sitting with dispatchers.
The Reserve Academy was designed to help implement a uniform training system for reserve deputies that will ensure they are effective when they are on patrol, Williams said. “A lot of guys that work the evenings or weekend shifts, and they really appreciate it when a reserve comes out.”
He said reserve deputies also perform much community work, such as in public schools. They can also be invaluable on DUI patrol, Williams said.
“They can cut our DUI time in half, just by helping with the paperwork, helping with transporting them to the jail,” he said.
Reserve deputies are also assigned to patrol trouble spots. While they are unable to initiate traffic stops or arrests on their own, they are able to call in law enforcement officers.
While reserve deputies are unable to carry firearms, they are equipped with stun guns and pepper spray.
The training offered through the Reserve Academy, however, does include firearms training in order to familiarize students with guns and the procedures police employ when using them. This is important, Malcolm said, since reserve deputies will work with full-fledged law enforcement officers, who do carry guns.
Malcolm said the Reserve Academy, after graduating its first class in Oct. 2012, has worked to build partnerships with a number of local entities to strengthen its training program. These include the Charles Town, Ranson and Shepherdstown police departments, the JCESA Emergency Medical Services staff, Eastern Regional Jail and the county’s dispatchers.
The program is also beginning to work closely with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department and recently partnered with Blue Ridge Community Technical College, which will extend college credits to graduates of the Academy.
Malcolm said the program is open to citizens who want to aid the Sheriff’s Office at any level.
“The program is what you make of it,” he said. “If all you want to do is go out and be active with the community, that’s fine. But they also have the latitude to hop in and ride with an officer, if they want to.”