Grant for county reserve officers helps compensate volunteers

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   Walking into the middle of a domestic dispute, uninvited, is bad enough. Sometimes the two parties involved turn on you. Sometimes you get cursed or spit on. If you're a reserve officer with Carter County Sheriff's Department, you're taking this abuse from folks with poor social skills and nobody's paying you a dime for it.
   What's even worse is that you probably shelled out $1,000 to get outfitted in uniform -- from that shiny nameplate people always check to make sure they've got your name right when they're not happy with your attitude, to those double-locking handcuffs some offenders just refuse to wear without a little incentive.
   Each reserve officer saves Carter County about $36,000 a year by volunteering their time, according to Chief Deputy James Parrish. And until last year, they assumed total financial burden for getting outfitted -- including the cost of a firearm.
   A $14,401 local Law Enforcement Block Grant recently awarded to the sheriff's department by the U.S. Department of Justice at the end of July "will make it a lot easier for someone to volunteer their time," he said.
   The grant was approved July 12 and received by the sheriff's department July 29.
   Last year, the department received $13,900 to help reserve officers purchase handcuffs, badges, uniforms and other items. This year, reserves will be getting coats and short-sleeve shirts. "We're working on buying the equipment now," Parrish said.
   The sheriff's department is currently seeking five reserve officer recruits, for a total of 20-25, Parrish said.
   Interested persons must first take the Civil Service test. A completed Carter County Sheriff's Department application for employment is required before testing. Applications are available at the sheriff's department. Applicants also must be able to pass a psychological exam.