The LAPD Reserve Officer Program
Community Policing At Its Finest


  The LAPD Reserve Officer Program
Community Policing At Its Finest

by Bill Murray

May 14


New Initiative Provides Many Residents
Opportunities to Serve the Community

The Reserve Corps’ motto:
"To be a Reserve is to be Twice a Citizen"

Many Opportunities to Serve


In an effort to bolster the manpower at LAPD, Mayor James Hahn held a news conference today to announce a major community-based policing plan including several initiatives designed to revitalize the LAPD Reserve Corps Program.

The Mayor was joined by Assistant Chief Sharon Papa, City Councilmen Greig Smith and Dennis Zine, both LAPD Reserve Officers, and Police Commission Vice President Alan Skobin, who serves as a Reserve Officer in the Sheriff's Department.

The event was held on the front steps at Devonshire Division in Northridge, and is part of the ongoing effort to make LA the "safest big city in America."

The LAPD now numbers about 9,200 officers. Throughout the city, residents consistently ask to increase the size of the police force. But only 30 new officers are planned in the new budget.

Mayor Hahn and the Police Commission are determined to find ways to bring more officers into the Department.

Among other things, they are supporting the proposed ˝ cent sales tax initiative, which could result in perhaps as many as 5,000 new law enforcement officers across the county, with some 1,800 being hired at LAPD alone.

Placing a new priority on the Reserve Corp Program and finding ways the community can more easily participate is a significant step. LAPD currently has 649 active reserve officers, the largest Police Department Reserve Unit in California. However, the Reserve Corps has an authorized strength of 2,000 officers and at its peak, reached 1,500 reserves.

It was established during World War II, when enlistment and the draft depleted the ranks of qualified LAPD recruits. The LAPD turned to the residents of the community to supplement the shortage of full-time police officers. Thousands of concerned citizens volunteered their services as auxiliary police.

Mayor Hahn said that because of the fiscal constraints on the department, he is looking at this as a creative way to put more officers on the streets.

"Reserve officers are a valuable resource to the department. Our current Reserve Corps of 649 officers is the equivalent of approximately 100 full-time officers, which saves the LAPD approximately $5 million per year," said Mayor Hahn. "Because of difficult budget times, we are unable to hire the police officers we need, but building the reserve ranks will help us make our streets safer."

Types of Reserve Officers

There are four types of Reserve Officers, three of which are required to work a minimum of 32 hours every two deployment periods to remain active. The civilian Specialists have no shift requirement:

1) Level I Reserve Officers are sworn peace officers who generally wear uniforms, are armed and work primarily patrol assignments. They receive 795 hours of academy training and undergo a year of field training before becoming fully designated as a Level I reserve.
2) Level II Reserve Officers are sworn peace officers who generally wear uniforms, are armed, and have police officer powers only while on-duty . They can work the same assignments as Level I officers provided they are supervised by a full-time or Level I Reserve Officer. They receive 455 hours of academy training.
3) Level III Reserve Officers are sworn peace officers who generally wear uniforms, are unarmed and have police officer powers only while on-duty . They receive 205 hours of academy training and work support assignments such as the area desk and assisting detectives in non-tactical situations.
4) Specialist Reserve Officers are civilian volunteers who possess special skills that benefit the department. Although they receive a brief orientation, they have no specific department training, no police officer powers and do not wear uniforms or carry weapons.

"On a daily basis, and in times of major disaster, Los Angeles Police Department Reserve Corps Officers stand side-by-side sworn LAPD Officers to support police operations," said Zine. "As a Level I Reserve Officer with over 35 years of police experience, my reserve activities remain both challenging and interesting."

"It has been my honor and pleasure to serve the City of Los Angeles as an LAPD Reserve Officer for the past eleven years," said Councilman Smith. "I've trained and served alongside L.A.'s finest and count my work with the LAPD among the most rewarding and challenging of my career."

The LAPD commissioned a survey of reserve officers to determine the reserve corps strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to improve the program. They also surveyed other Southern California reserve programs to gather new ideas. As a result, the department is issuing 20 recommendations to the Police Commission to revitalize the Reserve Corps program.

"The Police Department has been severely understaffed for years. I have asked officers to do more with less. I am encouraged by these initiatives that will increase the number of Reserve Police Officers to augment current staffing levels," said Police Chief Bill Bratton.

The Initiative

The initiatives focus on improving morale of reserve officers as well as increasing the ranks. The recommendations go before the Police Commission for approval in the next few weeks. Mayor Hahn presented the following recommendations at the press conference:

1) Establish as part of a five-year revitalization program a goal of doubling the size of the Reserve Corps.
2) Establish a Lateral Reserve Officer hiring and training process to facilitate the recruitment of reserve officers who wish to join LAPD from other agencies.
3) Provide all current and retired city employees a financial "hiring bonus" of $500 when they successfully recruit a Level I, II, or III Reserve Officer and the concerned officer completes academy training.
4) Develop a Reserve Corps Recruitment Website similar to that for full-time officers.
5) Streamline the hiring process to allow qualified Level I Reserve Officers to become full-time police officers.
6) Provide bonus points for reserve officers during the selection process to become full-time officers.

Police Commission Vice President Alan Skobin stated, "These initiatives will greatly enhance the Department's Reserve Corps, making it an active and vital component of the LAPD's fight against crime. Reserve Officers are an example of community-based policing in its truest form. The value that Reserves bring to the table is immense, and doubling their force is a priceless benefit to the people of Los Angeles."

Also on hand was Commander Robert Hansohn, who supervises the Reserve Program. He announced a new online newsletter dedicated to the Reserve Corp has just been launched (see "The Reserve Rotator" link below).

In its inaugural issue, Commander Hansohn writes, "It has been almost a year since I was assigned as the Department's Reserve Coordinator. From early on, it became evident to me that many things were needed to support and help revitalize the Reserve Corps. After many meetings with reserve coordinators and reserve officers from throughout the City, we have established what I believe to be an excellent set of initiatives to improve the Corps and increase its size."

The Rewards of Becoming a Reserve

Officer Reserve Officers are generally not content to play a passive role in life. Instead, they continue to devote more and more of their time and talents to the City of Los Angeles. They "get involved" for the betterment of their community, and by doing so live up to the Reserve Corps’ motto, "To be a reserve is to be twice a citizen."

Because Reserve Officers are effective spokespersons in their neighborhoods for the support of law enforcement, their presence in the Department provides full-time officers with more insight into all segments of the City’s population.

Department personnel who have been associated with the Police Reserve Corps are continually impressed by the performance and dedication of its members.

Numerous LAPD Reserve Officers attended the event at Devonshire Division as well, including a milkman, a nursery owner and a Park Ranger. Several of them expressed their gratitude for having the ability to make a difference in Los Angeles. Over time many of their stories will be found within the new newsletter, as will information about Training, Events, Opportunities, Division Spotlights and more.

This is community policing and volunteering at its finest.

LAPD is calling … will you answer?


For more information please see: page about:
The Reserve Corps Program

"The Reserve Rotator"
Reserve Corps' new newsletter:

Reserve Police Officer Program
(Volunteer Officers)

700 East Temple
Los Angeles, CA

213 / 485-3800