Evart Police starting reserves program

EVART — The Evart Police Department will be getting some assistance in the coming months.

The department is working on starting a reserve program, slightly similar to the auxiliary program of the past, but also very different, said Sgt. John Beam.

“The auxiliary program a few years back has been described as out of control,” Beam said. “We are starting this program small to gain the trust of the community back and show that we can have a reserve program back and manage it well, so it’s not out of control.”

The two candidates for the program had to fill out an application and have a background check conducted. Both of the men are involved with the Evart Fire Department and also have criminal justice backgrounds, Beam said.

The candidates currently are working to become reserve officers by attending a four-to-five month-long officer reserve program through the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

“They receive the same skills and education that we learn in the police academy, except it’s shrunk down to accommodate that these individuals are volunteers who have jobs, families and can’t go to a full-time school,” Beam said.

The reserve officer candidates will have to qualify in shooting, pass quizzes on each section of the course and at the end of academy they’ll have to pass a written test, as well as a physical agility test. If they don’t pass or don’t meet these standards, they will be dropped from the program, Beam said.

“They have to put effort into their education,” Beam said. “It’s not an easy thing.”

Beam emphasized the reserve officers will receive no compensation and will have to purchase their own equipment, such as uniforms.

The recently passed public safety millage for Evart is not funding the program, he said.

“The program is not costing the city anything and actually the city is benefiting because we are practically getting another officer in the vehicle for free,” he said.

The reserve officers will ride along with police officers, but never drive the patrol vehicles. They will be armed and used as a support position for officers, providing an extra set of hands and eyes when dealing with complaints, Beam said.

The reserve officers will be helpful for calls that require two people, when typically, Evart police officers are working solo, he explained.

“The county itself has a high demand for law enforcement and with the way budgets are we are limited. Having an extra person in the car is a benefit for us,” he said. “A domestic violence call is a two-person complaint, but we can’t necessarily wait a half hour for the next unit to get in the area and assist.”

While Beam and the rest of the department is looking forward to the program beginning, they are cautious and plan to keep the program small for now, he said.

“We will visit the idea of expanding in a year,” Beam said. “This is kind of a test evaluation. If everything goes well, of course we’d be open to the idea of adding a few more reserve officers.”