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Sheriff's office brings back reserve deputy program

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | February 19, 2021 7:00 AM

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office wants you for its reserve deputy program.

Capt. Boyd White said the office is looking for a minimum of four candidates to kick off a reserve academy. Applicants will be put through 88 hours of law enforcement training and testing.

Those who pass muster may get to work security details, ride along with deputies and even help with investigations.

“It’s a great way to learn the ropes of law enforcement and get your feet on the ground,” said White.

Every couple of years, officials jumpstart the program in hopes of securing more talent. Although reserve deputies seeking full-time employment still have to go through the standard hiring procedure, agencies including the sheriff’s office and Montana Highway Patrol have historically drawn from the pool. White himself began working with the sheriff’s office in the reserves.

At the reserve academy, prospective lawmen and women can expect to receive around 40 hours of firearms and use of force training. Other subjects on the curriculum include ethics, criminal law, investigations, evidence, patrol procedures and crisis intervention.

The program is designed to give reserve deputies enough base-level training early on to allow them to participate in ride-alongs. In addition to creating a stock of potential future hires, the reserve program also affords the sheriff’s office more flexibility and increases deputy safety. Pairing reservists with deputies gives the officers an extra hand in potentially dangerous situations.

The entire academy usually takes around six months to complete.

White said it may take some time for the agency to find enough qualified applicants to kick off the reserve school.

“We want people in the program who have high morals and ethics,” he said.

The office will run background checks on all those who apply. Sheriff Darren Short said there is a residency requirement for the position and candidates must fill out a standard application.

Finding a healthy number of candidates is also important since the reserve program has seen a high dropout rate, in some years as high as 50 percent.

While reserve deputies are volunteers, there are some opportunities to earn pay through the program. Event organizers for the Kootenai River Stampede or local concerts may hire reservists for security.

White said the office would allow reservists to explore virtually any aspect of police work. While a reserve deputy won’t be handed anything as involved as a homicide case, White said the office would train them in handling investigations and making contacts if they expressed interest.

“We will let them do as much as they want to do,” he said.