Unpaid position touted as way to enter law enforcement profession, boost resume while providing help to local department

JASON CHANEY - Reserves will be trained with a full-time officer after attending academy.

Prineville Police Department has a lengthy history of employing reserves.

And sometimes, those who have held the unpaid positions have moved on to solid careers in the department. Cpt. Larry Seymour said he began his career as a reserve and notes that other officers like Jordan Uppendahl, Brandin Noland and Jordan Zamora took the same path.

"More than half of our current department started off doing reserves before they did full-time patrol," Seymour remarked.

The agency recently announced that it is once again hiring reserves to help the staff. To fill the position, applicants must pass a written test, physical agility test, background investigation, drug test and psychological evaluation.

Once they are hired, reserves will be required to attend the Central Oregon reserve academy, which Seymour said begins in January and concludes in May.

"They get certified in use of force, firearms — the basics to go out and work a parade or do ridealongs with an officer so they can start the learning process," he explained. "There are certain things they can't do (like process a DUII) that they get during the second stage of the academy, which starts in October and goes for two more months."

Once the second phase concludes, the reserves will ride with an assigned officer and begin what Seymour termed "a long field training evaluation program just like a full-time officer."

Some of the people who have signed up to serve as a police reserve in Prineville did so because they have the spare time and enjoy helping out local law enforcement, Seymour said, but many of them use the position as a way to break into police work.

"It is hard to get your foot in the door in law enforcement, so this is one way of initially getting looked at and being able to get a job offer," he said, "because we get to see you work, and you get a chance to do the job and see if you like it. You get that relationship growing, and when we do have an opening, we a lot of times hire reserves here instead of going out and getting a lateral applicant (who is already an experienced full-time officer) or opening it up to the public."

The other benefit, Seymour points out, is serving as a police reserve will help a person improve their job resume, regardless of whether they choose to pursue a police job or enter another profession. He likens it to people attending college or joining the military before moving onto their career.

"Showing yourself as a qualified reserve candidate is a pretty good way to get hired," he said.

The reserve program likewise benefits the police department. Seymour points out that having two people per police vehicle is an easier thing to do with reserves on board and is much safer should an officer respond to something like a crash, shooting or foot pursuit.

"We tell all of the reserves — and the officers for that matter — they are helping us out by being reserves," he said. "If they can get hired on at Redmond or Bend or in the (Willamette) Valley or in California, we are going to support them. If they get hired here, that's also great. … We don't do it as just a training program to get hired on here. It's a training program to better yourself, whether you go to another department or here."

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