Sheriff starts reserve deputy program

Beth Sergent - [email protected]

POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission has approved Sheriff Greg Powers’ proposal to start a reserve deputy police force within the Mason County Sheriff’s Department.

Powers presented his plan at this week’s commission meeting and discussed how this program would benefit the county.

Powers, who was a member of the reserves at the Point Pleasant Police Department for several years along with Chief Deputy Dave Downing and Cpt. Charlie Stearns, said the program in his department would be minimal cost to start. Those costs would include a uniform consisting of shirt, pants, badge and collar pins to denote that the officer was a member of the reserve force, not a certified deputy.

The county’s liability insurance premium would stay the same with the force and these reservists are unpaid but trained volunteers. Reservists are also not covered under workers compensation, civil service, or affected by unemployment compensation, retirement or insurance.

Reservists cannot carry firearms and the program would be under the over-site of Sgt. Forrest Terry who will be responsible for safety, training, documentation and direct supervision. Powers said this specified training can be done at the sheriff’s department and there is a screening and selection process, which includes a background check and DMV check, then a personal interview.

Powers has already selected three candidates and wants to start off with just those three candidates to see how the program is received. Those candidates are Thomas J. Roach, already a certified officer, James L. Freeman who works in security, and Jonathan Pinson, a local pastor who has a history in law enforcement as well.

Powers said these reservists will help direct traffic, do crowd control as well as do “ride alongs” with officers. Powers said it makes a difference when a deputy is called to a domestic violence call alone or with another officer who has his back. He said it’s the same thing when a deputy pulls over a vehicle for a traffic stop and while he is running the license plate, it can be the reservist’s job to watch those in the vehicle and be on the radio in a heartbeat if there’s a problem. Powers said it’s possible a reservist could drive a cruiser, but in limited capacity such as taking it to get gas to assist a deputy who needs to transport a prisoner, etc. The reservists will never be working alone, only providing assistance. It’s also possible in the future, with appropriate training, reservists could have a taser.

Powers said this is free labor and enhances the size of the department and is a good way to screen potential, future deputies with the department. Reservists are expected to perform 10 hours of service each month.

Commissioners Miles Epling, Rick Handley and Tracy Doolittle unanimously voted to approve the reserve force for insurance purposes but it will be under the direction of the sheriff’s department.

Beth Sergent

[email protected]

Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.

Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.