Police to expand ‘reserve’ program


Two officers are ready immediately

In the wake of budget cuts that left the Mammoth Lakes Police Department shorthanded, MLPD Dan Watson said he is moving ahead on establishing a reserve program.

Two top reserves are ready to go, he said at the Town Council meeting Wednesday, Feb. 6. One of them, retired Sergeant Karen Smart, is familiar to longtime Mammoth residents and visitors.

Another is a retired officer from Orange County who has purchased a home here and intends to reside in Mammoth about 50 percent of the time, Watson said.

Smart also will lead the reserve effort, which involves the recruitment of Level 3, Level 2, and Level 1 reserves.

A Level 1 officer has the training and the same legal authority of a regular officer. A Level 1 candidate must complete 727 hours of Academy training.

A Level 2 reserve officer can work as a second officer in a car under the direct supervision of a regular officer. A Level 2 candidate requires 333 hours of training.

A Level 3 officer, Watson said, is of “limited value” because they cannot do any enforcement work at all. However, they can work assignments such as the front counter, direct traffic, complete some crime reports, and write parking tickets.

A Level 3 reserve requires just 144 hours of Academy training.

The MLPD currently does not have any reserve officers, although there were reserves many years ago, Watson said.

Moreover, he said reserve programs are shrinking throughout California due to increased training requirements established by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). The typical reserve academy meets two nights a week for four hours along with one full day each weekend. To reach Level 1, a typical academy student needs nearly one year of training.

Watson said he would propose in the near future a bill that would pay reserve officers from $20 an hour to $25 hour, well below the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department standard, which pays $35 an hour for Level 1 reserves.

In addition, Watson said it costs a department about $3,000 to outfit a new officer with uniforms, a firearm, leather gear, and so on.

In all, the cost for the reserve program would be $7,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year (ending June 30) and $24,000 a year afterward.

Watson said lower overtime spending because of new deployment schedules, coupled with the elimination of seven sworn officers’ positions, would leave enough room to pay for the program.

Watson said he would deliver a resolution to the Town Council at its next meeting Feb. 20 to get the ball rolling.