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Auxiliary police officers are volunteers who work with a city or town’s police force. As one of these officers you will perform a range of duties, from controlling crowds at large events to inspecting child safety seats. A police department may also assign you to a specific unit, such as animal control or criminal investigations.
Responsibilities and Duties
Auxiliary police officers help keep their community safe. They work at traffic stops, crime scenes and DWI checkpoints; help during community and large events; ride along with officers on patrol; enforce parking laws; and sometimes go on foot patrols with officers. Your responsibilities will vary depending on where you live. Auxiliary officers in New York, for example, patrol subway entrances while the Baltimore Police Department uses its auxiliary force to verify where sex offenders in Baltimore County live. Some departments, like the one in Arlington County, also use auxiliary officers to staff its bike patrol. Most departments ask auxiliary officers to work in a non-enforcement or non-hazardous capacity.
Auxiliary officers undergo extensive training, including classroom instruction and driving, self-defense and fieldwork training. You’ll study a range of topics, including ethics, constitutional law, using force, first aid, CPR, parking enforcement, evidence collection, alcohol violations and arrest and restraining techniques. Some departments also offer supplementary, event-specific training. For example, auxiliary officers in Arlington County, Virginia, are trained on patrolling shopping malls during the holidays and helping police control crowds at large events, such as the county’s yearly Fourth of July celebration. Most departments require their auxiliary officers to complete a probationary period.
The number of hours you must work varies by police department. For example, auxiliary officers in Baltimore must work at least 170 hours a year, while auxiliary officers in Fairfax County, Virginia, must work 288 hours a year. You must commit to the minimum hour requirements before a department will bring you on as an auxiliary officer.
The requirements to become an auxiliary police officer vary by department, though most require you to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident actively seeking citizenship, pass a background check, live in the city or town where you want to volunteer, be in good health and have a valid driver’s license and a good driving record. Most departments have an age requirement. For example, you must be at least 17 to volunteer with the New York Police Department, while the Baltimore and Fairfax County police departments require their volunteers to be at least 21.
Police departments do not pay its auxiliary force, but do they pay any training-related costs. When a position opens up in the department, you may also have a leg up on the competition, given your involvement as an auxiliary officer and the training you’ve received. Some departments, such as the one in Fairfax County, Virginia, also provide insurance to auxiliary officers when they are working. Police departments also give you the tools you’ll need to do your job, such as your uniform, a duty belt and a ballistic vest.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.
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