Linn County Sheriff explains how reserve officers function within a department

Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 7:35 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - About 1,000 police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Iowa work for mostly free. They’re reserve officers and work somewhat differently in each department.

KCRG-TV9 started looking into the Reserve Officer Peace Officer function within the law enforcement agencies after Scott Fruehling, a Cedar Rapids Reserve Police Officer, was hurt while trying to make a traffic stop.

Cedar Rapids police said the vehicle accelerated towards the reserve officer and hit him. That’s when police said Fruehling fired his weapon. This happened on Center Street Northeast on December 17th.

“Reserve Officers have been around forever,” said Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner.

Sheriff Gardner said reserve officers have a long history in the state of Iowa. That’s how he got his start in law enforcement. That was how he got his start in law enforcement.

“I became a reserve officer purely with an intent to become a deputy,” he said.

Gardner said he has 30 reserve officers also known as “specialty deputies” within the department. Those officers are volunteers. They make a single dollar a year to be considered employees with the department and receive benefits and insurance. That’s similar to the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

“These officers assume the exact same authority as a full-time officer,” he said. “Once they go to the certification process and receive the blessing from the state, they can assume the exact same arrest powers as full-time authorities.”

Gardner said each department utilizes the position differently within the state law that outlines how reserve officers function. Specialty deputies patrol the Cedar River from Memorial Day to Labor Day and work during public relations events as well as riding with full-time deputies.

“The law says very clearly that you can’t use reserve officers to replace full-time officers,” he said. “It says very clearly that you can’t reduce the number of full-time officers that you have just because you have several reserve officers. They’re meant to assist and help out, but not replace.”

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