INDIANAPOLIS – A bill at the Indiana Statehouse would set new background check requirements for reserve police officers.
Reserve police officers are often volunteers who serve on the force. Some perform many of the same duties as full-time law enforcement officers but don’t have all the same background check requirements. Senate Bill 187 would change that.
“Reserve officers properly applied are a huge, a tremendous new addition to any police agency,” said Chief Gary Woodruff of the Lawrence Police Department.
Lawrence has more than 30 reserve officers, Woodruff said. Many are either retired from their full-time law enforcement career or are looking to join the profession, he added.
“Many special events, our reserves will assist us with providing extra presence,” Woodruff said. “But it really is supplementing and backfilling for our full-time officers.”
Woodruff said his staff checks the employment and disciplinary records of all reserve officer applicants, even though that’s not mandated by the state.
State Sen. Jack Sandlin (R-Indianapolis) introduced Senate Bill 187 to require all departments to do the same.
“I think the public has an expectation that there will be accountability, and this is an accountability mechanism,” he said.
So far, Sandlin’s bill has received unanimous support from the Senate and in two House committees. It now heads to the House floor.
“If somebody gets in trouble or maybe they’re kind of on the edge of something and they resign from an agency, it stops them from simply going down the road,” Sandlin said.
“It raises the bar for every agency across the state to set that higher standard,” Chief Woodruff said.
Sandlin’s bill would also require cities and towns to pass ordinances stating how many reserve officers their police departments can have.