BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A depleted police reserve program has the Fort Madison Police department looking at adding to the reserve officer corps.
Jamie Carle and Brent Gibbs, the co-coordinators of the the local police reserve program, are looking for residents who are interested in joining the program to give back to the community or as a springboard into a career in law enforcement.
Carle said currently the department has just three officers in the reserve corp and would like to add seven to nine officers. The police department is planning on having a testing session on Sunday, April 8. All applications would need to be returned by April 1.
Those interested in applying for the reserve program can do so by picking up a packet at city hall, filling it out, and returning it by April 1.
Testing for the program would include a background check and some basic testing as well as a physical test that involves the same physical testing as the regular officers working through the academy.
Fort Madison Police Chief Tim Sittig said reservists aren’t subjected to the same performance levels of what’s called the Cooper Institute Standards which include sit-ups, push-ups, sit-and-reach, and a 1.5 mile run.
“Those applying should know that we don’t have the same expectations of, say, a 20-year-old out of an academy. But we do need to know that they can do a push or sit-up. There are different standards for gender and age and we look at those,” Sittig said.
“If they are riding with us and we have a pursuit or a fight, our expectation is for them to participate as well. So we want to make sure they can cover our back. We think of the police reserves the same way as a national guard…citizen officers who train once a month and, if something bad happens, we can activate them.”
Gibbs said the reserve officers fill in with special events, traffic control, and requested security in the city. There is no pay other than the $1 per year to keep them on workers’ compensation if something were to happen. Reservists can also make money manning security for events like sporting events, the rodeo or other events.
“We tend to give those jobs to the reservists so they can get some experience and also to make a little money. Aside from the tazers and firearms, they have to pay for most of their gear. We hold some fundraisers for them like the dunk tank at RiverFest and we’ll do some Pizza Hut fundraisers for them. We try to help where we can.”
Rachel Sugars is one of the three current reservists and said it’s helped her along her career path. She said the state law requires reservists work a minimum 12 hours per month.
“This is something that I’ve been working for and I enjoy it,” she said. “It’s got my foot in the door for a full-time job.”
Sugars said she’s been sworn in for a year and half, but has been involved in the program for the past three years.
“When I got hired on, we didn’t do the physical testing, but I went through the regional tests,” Sugars said.
Carle and Gibbs both started as reservists who found an interest in law enforcement and now have made full-time careers out of the profession.
Sittig said reservists usually sign up for two reasons.
“One is that they use it as stepping stone for a full-time job and others just want to give back to the community,” he said. “So if that’s an interest to them, some of them progress and get to the point that through getting all the required training passed and approved they can take a car out. Others are perfectly happy riding and partnering up, either way is perfectly fine with us.”
Reservists would also need to learn 10-codes and the phonetic alphabet as part of the training program and would need to pass a background check.
“Once they complete their certification program, the moment we take them on as a reserve officer, depending on their work schedule, that’s about 18 months, but once they complete that, they are eligible to write citations and everything other than implied consent,” Gibbs said.
Editor’s Note: Next week the PCC will take a look at the Lee County Sheriff’s reserve deputy department.