How to Become a Volunteer Police Officer
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Becoming a volunteer or reserve police officer is an exciting way to get involved in your community. Volunteer police officers work part time but often have similar training and many of the same responsibilities of full-time police officers. Some reserve officers patrol neighborhoods and respond to emergency calls, while others become involved with parking enforcement and traffic patrol. Other volunteer police officer programs allow citizens to ride along with officers. The types of volunteer officer programs and their requirements differ by city, but all of them help local law enforcement save thousands of dollars every year.
Contact your local police department to ask about the available volunteer or reserve police officer opportunities. Some communities offer paid part-time reserve officer programs while others only work with volunteers. Some programs such as educational ride-alongs don't require much additional training while other volunteer officers participate in the same six-to-eight-week basic training as regular officers.
Make sure you have the minimum requirements before applying. Most cities require volunteer officers to be at least 18 or 21 years old with a high school diploma or equivalency and a valid driver's license. Volunteer officers should be U.S. citizens or have an application pending. You must have a clean criminal record and be physically fit. Some stations accept volunteers to participate in clerical work, so inquire about this if you are not physically able to do the same duties as a police officer.
Fill out the application and complete the initial screening process. Because volunteer officers often have the same duties as regular police officers, they must undergo the same scrutiny. The initial screening usually includes a drug test, a medical and psychological examination, a basic literacy test, a physical fitness test and a personal interview.
Attend police academy basic training as required by the department. Many communities have a basic training program designed for volunteer and reserve officers that you can attend part-time while still continuing your regular job.
Complete the on-the-job training program and required supervised volunteer hours. Departments vary in how many hours of training are required before a volunteer officer is let out on his own.
Get your uniform, gun, badge and protective equipment. Volunteer officers have the same uniforms and equipment as full-time officers. Most departments supply these to volunteers, though some may charge a fee.