By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A crop of newly graduated police reserves will hit the ground running.
Seven new reserve officers graduated from the Tupelo Police Academy Thursday evening and Police Chief Tony Carleton said they are more than needed. Three of the new graduates will be reserves and the other four will serve as medics for the S.W.A.T. unit.
“Once these officers go through the FTO (Field Training Officer) program, we are going to put them to work,” said Carleton. “Our reserves are a huge asset to our department and we are happy to increase our law enforcement family. The more officers we have the more secure our city is.”
The new reserves increase the unit’s number to 37.
Reserves go through about a five-month certification course at the academy where they have to prove to be proficient in the same skills as full-time officers. The course consists of driving and basic firearm skills, learning various laws and tactical communication.
Because they don’t go through the full course, reserve officers receive a partial law enforcement certification from the state Board on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training.
They all will have to complete the Field Training Officer program before they are allowed on their own.
Reserves work as volunteers and are not paid. But they have the same arrest powers as a full-time officer.
Jessica Collins is one of the new graduates.
“I’ve always been interested in criminal justice and this is a way for me to get a start,” said Collins. “It’s also a way for me to help my community.”
Dawn Magers is a squad leader with the reserves and has been a reserve since 2006. Magers, whose brother is a detective with the department, said she is excited to have the new graduates join.
“You have to enjoy what you do to do this job,” said Magers. “We are volunteers and we take a lot of pride in our jobs and community. We really get a chance to be a part of the community.”
The reserves do everything from patrolling parades and other events to traffic control. Sgt. Katarsha White is over the reserve program. She said it’s just as important as any other division in the department.
“It would be hard for us to make it without the patrol unit,” said White. “They are well-trained to do any task asked of them, and more importantly they are willing.”
The academy has a reserve class once or twice a year. If you’re at least 21 with a clear record and are interested, call White at (662) 841-6491.