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Unique Volunteer Opportunity Makes Citizens Into Deputies

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa - People looking to lay the groundwork for a career in law enforcement, or those who just want to be a weekend deputy, have a chance to join the force in Johnson County.

County officials are trying to recruit more reserve deputies onto the squad. Reserve deputy programs exist in different sizes at departments across the state.

"I always wanted to explore law enforcement, but not enough to make it a full-time career," said Josh Gersten, a lead Johnson County reserve deputy. "It's more of a civic minded thing."

Gersten works three to four shifts a month with the Johnson County Sheriff's Office. He has compiled hundreds of hours of training, which allows him to take a squad car out on patrol during his shifts.

"We're not replacements, just extra help," Gersten, who works at Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville, said.

Reserve deputies are paid just $1 a year. They are only allowed to carry a weapon, which they must purchase, after achieving a certain level of training.

Those with less training help with crowd and traffic control at large gatherings, such as football games, presidential visits or the county fair.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office is accepting applications through the end of the month. Applicants need to live within 20 miles of the sheriff's office.

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