By Stephanie Rebman/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The dedication of Tupelo Police Department’s volunteer reserve officers is keeping residents and their pocketbooks safe.
TPD’s reserve officer unit logged more than 5,600 volunteer hours in 2011, up significantly from previous years. In fact, the hours committed have more than doubled since 2008.
Whether it’s being on call in case of a weather emergency or making sure the crowd has a safe, fun experience at the annual Reed’s Christmas Parade, regular men and women from Tupelo suit up. Currently, the reserve officer unit is 25 strong.
Eric Gibens is the civilian reserve coordinator for the unit and has been on the force since 1993. He said it’s the community events that make the job rewarding.
“This is my hometown,” he said. “It’s my avenue to be active in my community. Tupelo has its challenges, and this is the avenue I’ve chosen to work through them.”
The job is also fun for him. An example is when an officer has to respond to a crime or take a report in a stressful situation, he has to be the tough guy. But for the reserve officers, they get to interact in a more pleasant situation and show officers can also be more laid-back under different circumstances.
“You get a different perspective than a full-time officer,” Gibens said. “You get to interact with the community differently.”
Dawn Magers, a squad leader who’s been with the reserves since 2006 and has police officers in her family, echoed Gibens and said she enjoys the mingling with residents.
“For me it’s just the volunteering,” she said. “You’re giving something back.”
Some of the places around town you’ll see the reserve officers are at parades, foot races, athletic games in gyms and stadiums, directing traffic, special events, escorting those under arrest and even patrolling.
“If the reserve division didn’t cover these things, that means we would have to pull shift guys to cover these events, which would mean everybody would have overtime,” said TPD’s liaison officer, Katarsha White. “These men and women volunteer their time to come out and work. They are a great asset to the department.”
Want to be an Officer
THE TUPELO POLICE DEPARTMENT currently is looking for people to keep its volunteer reserve unit going strong. You can pick up and fill out an application at City Hall.