Changes in Police Reserves Policies and Procedures
The Police Reserves are an auxiliary police unit created by City ordinance. They are unpaid volunteer officers; the city provides their uniforms and equipment, including weapons, and worker’s compensation. Our current reserve unit is comprised of 78 officers including 14 who were added in October 2008 (they are not included in any statistics in this report).
The Police Reserves make a valuable contribution to CMPD and the citizens of Charlotte by adding additional police manpower at a minimal cost to the city. In order for the Police Reserves to function effectively, their work must be integrated with the goals, strategies, and resource allocation plans of the department as a whole. The Reserves must also operate under standard policies and procedures that govern their work and, in doing so, protect them, the department’s regular officers, and the public. I have made recent changes in the Reserve Unit to ensure that the unit remains a viable part of CMPD.
From October 1, 2008- January 31st, 2009, the most recent four-month period, thirty-one (31) reserve officers worked 6,188 hours of off-duty employment where they were paid for their services at a minimum rate of $26.00 an hour by various private companies and businesses. During this same time period, these same thirty-one reserve officers volunteered 2,169 hours to CMPD. These hours reflect assignments to patrol divisions and special projects. Many of the departmental hours came after repeated requests to the Reserve Unit from CMPD staff to assist with holiday events. It continues to be a struggle to fill assignments designated to be filled by volunteer Reserve Officers.
The purpose of the Reserve Unit is to augment the needs of CMPD such as working special events where extra officers are required to properly staff the event. Examples of this are the Veterans Day Parade, Thanksgiving Parade, Fourth of July Celebration, New Years Eve Celebration, etc., which require a large amount of on-duty manpower. Requiring reserve officers to work these types of events allows us to keep division officers in their assigned neighborhoods answering citizen calls for service.
Previously, Reserve Officers were allowed to choose when and where they wanted to work, which often included areas where they had pre-existing relationships, with no direction or management from CMPD. No other volunteer group within CMPD is permitted to determine where and when they will volunteer. CMPD needs Reserve Officers to focus their hours and efforts in the neighborhoods in coordination with the Division commanders. Allowing officers to work when and where they want to work does not meet the operational needs or the crime prevention efforts of the department.
Over the last several years, the Reserves have existed and operated as a separate police entity apart from CMPD with little or no direct supervision from CMPD. The Reserve Unit must operate as an integral part of the organization and not as a separate entity or group. No personnel extraneous to CMPD should control or supervise reserve officers who are indistinguishable from full time police officers. These armed officers must not be managed by part time volunteers who have no responsibility for day to day management of the department.
Currently the Reserves are perceived by the public as an armed, sworn unit that meets and conforms to all policies and standards of a full time CMPD police officer. Recently, some Reserve Officers have stated they are not comfortable performing basic patrol duties. Reserve Officers, by their own admission, have lesser capacity to perform certain police duties. The Reserve Officer standards are not the same and the public should not believe their responsibilities are identical to those of a full time officer.
In September 2007, prior to my arrival, Major Vicki Foster was assigned to Community Services which included the Reserve Unit. As part of the assignment, Major Foster began an evaluation of the unit’s policies and procedures. The evaluation included surveying members of the Reserve Unit, attending Reserve Unit meetings, and conducting interviews with current Reserve command members. As a result of this extensive evaluation process the following concerns were identified:
• There was no Standard Operating Procedure for the Reserve Unit and the unit was governed at the discretion of the volunteer Reserve Unit commander. Every other unit in CMPD has standard operating procedures that govern their roles, responsibilities, and conduct. However, the Reserves operated without these required procedures.
• Seventeen (17) members of the Reserve Unit had never served as sworn full-time officers but were allowed to work secondary employment in the same manner as those who served as full-time officers without the benefit of their extensive training.
•Reserve Officers could enter the reserve unit after completing a Basic Law
Enforcement Training program of approximately twelve (12) weeks. In
contrast, CMPD recruits are required to complete twenty-three (23) weeks of
training at the academy along with twelve (12) weeks with a field training
officer. This difference in training could pose a liability to CMPD while these
officers are performing police functions.
• Several reserve officers serving as supervisors within the Reserve Unit had no supervisory experience or training at CMPD. This included the most recent Reserve Unit Commander who oversaw all of the reserves. These Reserve supervisors were also permitted to serve as supervisors for secondary employment events, which include supervising full-time CMPD officers. This could pose potential liability for CMPD.
• We learned that the Reserve Commander held two service contracts with CMPD, for a weapons tracking system and the secondary employment system. These financial arrangements were considered to be a conflict of interest with his responsibilities as the head of the Reserves because the Reserves also use this system to track their reserve hours. A recent examination of this system has uncovered various inconsistencies in reported hours which CMPD is unable to verify as this information is stored on systems not owned or administered by CMPD. (These are proprietary systems owned by CYAUSA, Inc. which is owned and administered by the Reserve Commander and maintained on non-CMPD servers.) We also learned that the Reserve Commander was using his relationship with CMPD to market his products by indicating that CMPD endorsed his product.
• Since its inception, the Reserve uniform included a patch that identified the officers as Reserve Officers. In 2003 that patch was removed at the request of the Reserves. The presence of the Reserve patch does not impact their legal authority to take appropriate police action. This patch served to designate to the community and other CMPD officers that these officers were volunteers and not full time officers. This would prevent the issue of a full-time officer seeking direction and guidance from a Reserve supervisor or an apparently senior officer. This poses a potential liability for CMPD.
• The command structure included 15 officers who were allowed to use their responsibilities in lieu of volunteer hours to the department. These responsibilities were primarily unnecessary administrative tasks which were not measurable and did not add value to the mission of the Reserve Unit.
• There was also no process in place to evaluate an officer’s ability to perform the essential job functions of a police officer and no process in place to determine how the volunteer hours benefit the police department.
As a result of this extensive evaluation we have added significant structure, controls, requirements and supervision to the Reserve Unit. The following are now in place:
• The Reserve command structure has been reduced from fifteen (15) members to four (4). These four (4) are former CMPD executive level members and will provide close supervision for all reserve activities. This Command structure will now report to the Community Services Captain, thereby insuring significant supervision and accountability by a full time CMPD command staff member.
• Reserve officers who were not trained as supervisors at CMPD will no longer be permitted to supervise reserve officers in any capacity.
• A detailed seven (7) page Standard Operating Procedure, which will govern all activities and roles and responsibilities for the Reserve Unit, has been drafted and approved by the Community Services Chain of Command.
• A uniform patch designating officers as “Reserve” has been instituted so that members of the community and CMPD officers will be aware of the limited roles of the Reserve Officers.
• The Reserve Unit no longer accepts Basic Law Enforcement Training candidates but only those who have five years of experience or those who retire from CMPD.
These measures that I have now put in place will rectify the lack of daily supervision and provide greater accountability and guidance to ensure that the Reserves are working to meet the goals of the CMPD as well as prevent any liability to CMPD.