City explores reserve officers

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The financially struggling city is looking into the possibility of volunteer auxiliary police officers.

Representatives with Southeastern Michigan Council of Reserve and Auxiliary Officers visited the city council meeting Jan. 24 to discuss their organization’s potential as a cost-saving measure for the city.

The nonprofit organization sets up volunteers for foot and bike patrol at city events, as well as patrol for crime prevention, code enforcement and traffic tickets.

SEMCORA Chief Financial Officer Justin Mardarski said the venture could save the city up to $250,000 a year in free
patrol. Added traffic tickets and code enforcement fines could bring in more revenue, he said.

Volunteers for the program pay for their training, with the city providing a gym or farming training out to a local college, which most of the 300 cities in the state that use auxiliary officers elect not to do, as volunteers must then be trained to the specifications of each city, Mardarski said.

“You’re basically double-training people,” he said. “As long as this training can be set up (in-house), it’s free.”

Volunteers get no compensation whatsoever and also pay for their guns and bullet-proof vests and vest certifications, which must be renewed every five years, a fact that troubled City Councilman Bob Keenan.

“You’re looking at potentially around $2,800 for a five-year term, out of pocket for an applicant for free,” Keenan said.

But Madarski said that most volunteers already have concealed weapon permits and approved firearms. Grants also are available for bullet-proof vests, which the city requires for employees who carry guns.

Other councilors also were concerned about liability and the fact that the issue had not been brought before Police Chief James Wilkewitz or the Public Safety Commission.

The commission is to review the matter and report to the city council.