Many residents see the green and gold uniforms of the Carson City Sheriff’s Deputies, however, they may not realize some of those deputies are volunteers.
The Reserve Deputy program is branch of the Sheriff’s Office in which community members volunteer their time in a law enforcement capacity.
“It is a different aspect of community service and a stepping stone, if that is the intent to law enforcement in a paid position with us or another agency,” said Reserve Commander Tom Crawford.
There are currently 18 reserves who work with the Sheriff’s Office, augmenting patrol and detention deputies; providing security for a number of Carson events, such as Nevada Day, the Fourth of July carnival and more; providing security in parks and downtown through their bike patrol program; and providing assistance for any division within the Sheriff’s Office, including day to day operations.
“If it weren’t for our Reserves, we wouldn’t be able to accommodate many of the requests for law enforcement presence at many of the events around Carson City,” said Sheriff Ken Furlong. “They staff out special events, parades, extraditions, transports and routine operations and have even been engaged in several major catastrophes like the IHOP and Carl Howell shootings.”
In addition to helping Carson City, they also assist the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to patrol the rural parts of Lake Tahoe, which includes six miles of shoreline. The Reserves help patrol the beaches to make sure there’s no underage drinking, complaints and to ensure a level of overall safety in parts of the beaches that may not be as accessible for regular deputies.
“They help provide for the safety of visitors using the public land and assist state parks, Nevada Highway Patrol, Washoe County and Douglas County Sheriff’s Offices under a mutual aid agreement,” Crawford said.
For some, it’s a way to further serve their community — there are Reserves who work as doctors, Marines, firefighters or government agents and chose to volunteer in law enforcement to continue that level of service. Some join to get a taste of law enforcement as a career and show their skills and desire before being hired on full time at an agency.
“I originally started participating in the reserve program exploring career options,” said one of the Reserve Sergeants. “The program is great to get your feet wet and experience law enforcement work and all the training different roles and responsibilities that goes along with it.”
And participating in the program pays off — the Carson Reserve program just recently lost one of its most dedicated deputies, after he was hired as a full-time deputy for Douglas County.
“Being a Reserve doesn’t limit you to just this agency, it goes across the board to other law enforcement agencies,” Crawford said.
Furlong agrees they often look toward their Reserves to pick for their applicants when new positions become available.
“They embrace a philosophy of what this program promotes and it provides us with a pool of candidates of full time employment,” said Furlong. “Many of our employees begin their careers with the Reserves.”
Furlong said the Reserves are good for the community too — while they help deputies with tasks such as transporting suspects to detention so the deputy can clear a scene, their presence at events have helped improve the image of the town in general.
He uses the annual carnival at Mills Park as one example. Furlong said before they were able to provide a police presence at the event with the Reserves, nearly a decade ago the park was being overrun “by drunks and gangs.” And now, the event is safer for children and families to attend.
“The presence of our Reserves with our regular staff has had an outstanding impact on the safety and cleaning up of events,” Furlong said.
Another benefit to the community is the department is able to provide this increased police presence with no cost to the city. Because the Reserves are all volunteers, the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t pay them to perform these duties.
“The Reserves have cut the cost of business over the years,” Furlong said. “But that was only achieved by the strong leadership of the unit.”
Furlong credits all of the success of the program to Crawford.
“Crawford is outstanding, before he came, the Reserves’ image was horrid,” Furlong said. “His enthusiasm ensures an efficient flow of communication and meticulous understanding of the role of the Reserves. He executes his role fantastically and always goes above and beyond.”
All of the Reserve deputies are POST certified and are required to graduate from a POST Reserve program in Nevada to participate. They are also required to go through all the same tests as a full-time deputy including background checks, criminal checks, psychological exams and a medical clearance.
“Anyone interested in joining, it is a great opportunity and I have enjoyed the 10, 12, plus years that I have been a Reserve and I think that anyone who has been or is a Reserve would say that they have enjoyed what they do in terms of service to the community,” Crawford said.
The program is constantly recruiting new applicants. To apply to be a Reserve visit the Sheriff’s Office at 911 E. Musser and ask to speak with Tom Crawford at the front desk.