- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Scott County Sheriff’s Reserves undergo rigorous training, continued instruction and work in all kinds of weather - all for $1 a year. Reserve deputies perform the same duty role as a deputy, “just not on an ongoing basis,” said Lt. Bryce Schmidt, reserve coordinator and supervisor for the Scott County Sheriff’s Office.

Increased scrutiny has come to reserve deputies across the country in light of a case involving an Oklahoma reserve sheriff’s deputy, the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/1OJN11a ) reported. The reservist, 73-year-old Robert Charles Bates, recently was accused of manslaughter after the shooting death of unarmed Eric Harris, who is black, which was captured on video. Bates said he meant to draw his stun gun, but he fired his handgun.

In 2014, reserve deputies volunteered for more than 5,000 hours, Scott County Sheriff Dennis Conard said.

“I currently have five deputies who started their law enforcement careers as reserve deputies,” he said.

Conard himself was on the sheriff’s posse in 1973 before he became a deputy that same year. The posse started in 1965 and was changed from “posse” to “reserves” in the 1980s, he said.


While Conard is watching the Oklahoma case carefully, he said that Iowa’s training standards ease his mind.

“The continuing training we require of all deputies makes me very comfortable with our reserve unit - as comfortable as you can be when you ask someone to put themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of others,” he said.

The last incident occurred in 1995 when a reserve deputy was cleared of wrongdoing in a shooting outside the former Showcase Cinemas in Davenport.

Reservists are put through the same testing process as a regular deputy and carry the same weapons, Schmidt said. They also undergo the same physical agility, academic, polygraph and physiological testing, as set forth by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, or ILEA.

The agility test “has a tendency to weed people out,” he said.

In the Quad-Cities, only Scott County uses reserve deputies, according to several Quad-City city and county law enforcement agency officials.

Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos, who has been with the department for more than 30 years, said the department has not used reserve deputies since the 1980s.

Scott County Reserve officers earn $1 annually and are considered to be county employees only for liability insurance purposes, according to the county’s risk management department. They are not eligible for other county benefits, according to the county’s human resources department.

“By paying them $1 year, they are covered by (liability) insurance if something happens to them,” Schmidt said.

Reserve deputies work about 70 Scott County events each year, from parades to fireworks and running events. A few reserve deputies are on hand for each event.


Schmidt said the numbers of reserves are down because several people recently turned 66 - the age limit for a reserve deputy - or decided not to continue in the role. Currently, three women serve as reserves, Schmidt said.

“We get everything from accountants to an eye doctor,” he said.

Some, such as Ray Palczynski of Bettendorf, come from public safety careers. He was a lieutenant in the Davenport Fire Department and joined the reserves in 2008. He also is a volunteer firefighter in Bettendorf and special operations training programs director at the Illinois Fire Service Institute in Champaign.

“I didn’t want to give up or lose the training that I had,” Palczynski said.

He and the other reserves “are a pretty eclectic bunch” and include two other firefighters. “We all come from different directions and bring different things to the table,” he said. “I think that’s partly what makes it work.

Palczynski said he enjoys the work and the impact he can have. He was working one cold winter night when he saw woman, who later was charged with operating while intoxicated, driving the wrong way on U.S. 61. He and another reserve stopped her “before something tragic happened,” Palczynski said. “We were in the right place at the right time.”


While the work can be rewarding, the yearlong training can be grueling. After passing the physical testing, applicants are invited back later in the day to take a written ILEA test that involves subjects such as math and reading comprehension.

The applicant then must pass an extensive background check - the same a deputy candidate must pass, including a background check that can include asking their neighbors such questions as, “Do they squeal their tires up and down the street? Are they playing a loud stereo? Do you like them or not like them?” Schmidt said.

Next comes the polygraph and then the psychological exam that is scored by the ILEA. The candidate also must undergo a physical exam that includes drug screening and a vision test, “all the things you would normally test for a deputy,” Schmidt said.

If they pass all that, the applicants are brought on board to begin six modules - 40 hours - of training required by the ILEA. Topics include criminal law, domestic abuse, traffic direction, vehicle stops, crisis and conflict, ethics, patrol techniques, defense techniques, juvenile law, search and seizure, weather preparedness, court testimony, discretion, cultural diversity, interviews and interrogation, laws of arrest, motor vehicle law and community policing, among many other subjects.

“You have to want to do this,” Palczynski said. “There’s 160 hours of ride time after you finish all your modules,” he said. “It’s kind of a cool way to give back to the community.”

For the first 80 hours, applicants observe deputies or another reservist in plain-clothes ride time in a squad car to get the feel of the job and learn the county’s geography. Then they undergo pepper-spray training, just like a deputy does, and they also take a course in the use of the expandable baton.

A 40-hour firearms course also is required. Scott County provides the reserve with a Sig Sauer 40-caliber handgun, the same weapon a deputy carries, Schmidt said.

Then, reserves complete another 80 hours of ride time in uniform with a deputy, and that experience is more hands-on, Schmidt said. The reserves learn to drive a squad car, complete traffic stops and handle service calls.


Reserves are required to qualify with their firearms twice a year, just like deputies, and must be re-certified in stun gun training annually.

“You can’t put them in a full uniform with the same weapons on your belt as we have and train them less,” Schmidt said.

A reserve deputy can’t take the place of a deputy but is on hand for support, he said. They work in a rotation on Friday and Saturdays. Their shifts are 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“They can handle disabled vehicles and stuff like that, but for anything fairly serious they’re more of a backup role,” Schmidt said.

During bad weather, the county pages the reserves to assist, generally with accidents, disabled vehicles and cars in the ditch. Reserve deputies also help secure crime scenes.

Palczynski enjoys his hours as a reserve.

“We’re in a role where people like to see us more than the average law enforcement officer,” he said.


Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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