Reserve/Auxiliary/Volunteer/Pubic Safety Officers weigh in!
This is a question mostly for non-paid volunteer type officers but full time LEO's please feel free to weigh in you thoughts as well.
I'm seriously considering applying for my local volunteer force and would love to hear when did you get your calling? What made you decide? How has your experience been so far?
I guess at 38 my calling has come late. I've always been interested in law and law enforcement but never really considered it as a career when younger. I went into the computer field now specializing in cyber-security and have worked with some LEA's a number of times for certain situations. And that's about all I can say about that. ;)
It wasn't until a year or so ago that I learned there is a volunteer local force in my county. What actually made me investigate the option was seeing a volunteer public safety officer on one of the reality shows that was assisting regular officers with some traffic duty and similar tasks to free the officer up for more important calls. This intrigued me as I would be helping the community and the officers both things which I care about and respect.
Here in my county (Westchester, NY) we have what is called the Public Safety Emergency Force (PSEF). They are fully sworn Deputy Sheriffs with full police powers on-duty, but off-duty are just civilians and have no peace officer status. (aside: I'm not sure how that relates to HR218) They are issued uniforms, body armor and a firearm and are only responsible for purchasing handcuffs/case, flashlight, and shoes.
AFIAK requirements are pretty much the same for a regular officer in regards to the testing, interviews and background checks. PSEF members attend two weeks at peace officer training at the academy and will also train once a month between October and May.
Typical duties would consist of assistance, upon request, to town, village and city police departments with regard to traffic and crowd control at special events such as parades, street fairs and fireworks celebrations. In the past they have also assisted in hurricanes, blackouts, presidential & papal visits. I've also read elsewhere that you help with DWI checkpoints and will/may assist a patrol officer once a month.
According to the website they do about 85 details a year and you are encouraged to attend as many as possible, however I'm not sure what the expectations are. Also the county is pretty big so I'm not sure if I'd be expected to do things county wide or try and stay in my neck of the woods where I am more familiar with the people and surroundings. I'd also try and see if I could volunteer some time with their digital evidence section since that is part of what I do in my day job.
The more I think about it (and I think about it a lot) the more I want to apply, but I'd like to hear your experiences first. I'm also single with no responsibilities other than my day job and my dogs so other than needing to feed and walk my dogs I have the time to volunteer. I'm confident I could pass all the tests right now with exception of the physical. I'm not terribly out of shape but there is no way I can run the 1.5 miles in under 13mins, but give me a few months and it shouldn't be a problem.
I also want to do some ride alongs first to get a better feel for what it's like and make sure I'm not living in a fantasy world poisoned by what you see on tv.