Denham Springs — The Denham Springs Police Department is looking for volunteers to help beef up its ranks, and it has put out a call for reservists to join the force.
Those who meet the criteria receive about 360 hours of training at the police academy followed by a minimum of 14 weeks of field training with veteran officers, Detective Glenn Lemoine said.
Upon completion of training, reservists are given full police authority, including power to arrest, Lemoine said.
The department needs reservists to patrol popular events such as football games and festivals, but a larger auxiliary also would provide valuable backup to full-time officers as they perform their daily duties responding to calls, Lemoine said.
There’s safety in numbers, and an extra pair of eyes provides more security in a tense situation such as a domestic violence situation, the detective said.
The department has three reservists, with another two in the academy, but Lemoine said the department is willing to accept as many new applicants as possible. Candidates have to pass the same screening as regular officers, including a committee interview, drug test and psychological evaluation.
The department provides most uniform and equipment items, though reservists must supply their own boots and gun, Lemoine said. After a year in the auxiliary, the department will buy reservists a bullet-proof vest.
About two-thirds of Denham Springs police officers served in the auxiliary before being hired on, Lemoine added.
For more information, call (225) 665-5106.
The city also recently has recommitted to the department’s motorcycle unit. During a recent meeting, the City Council agreed to trade in three Harley-Davidsons for newer models.
In December, the department had its first line-of-duty death after motorcycle Officer James Foster was hit by a car while responding to a crash. But despite the relative vulnerability of riders to drivers, the mayor and police chief said the unit will continue its work.
“Our job doesn’t stop just because we lose one of our own,” said Sgt. Paul Steagall, one of the officers in the unit.
“The level of danger is out there for all of us in one way or another,” added Chief Scott Jones.
Motorcycles have a number of advantages: They’re far cheaper to operate than cruisers, and their low profile makes them ideal for traffic enforcement, especially on neighborhood roads.
But, as Mayor Gerard Landry pointed out, perhaps their greatest asset is that when there’s a wreck, motorcyclists can nimbly navigate the snarl of traffic to provide quicker help to people in trouble.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.