Police officers put themselves at risk to enforce the law. They encounter volatile situations and confront dangerous criminals in order to protect ordinary citizens and their property. They typically work for local, state or federal agencies to pursue their duties. However, a special class of officer in the reserves augments the duties of regular police.


In general, reserve police officers are considered volunteers, although they can fulfill many of the duties of their paid counterparts. Though jobs vary by agency, their experiences in the Los Angeles Police Department are typical of law enforcement units throughout the country. They undergo the same training as paid officers, work with the same equipment, and must be familiar with the law and police procedures. However, they do not receive any pay for their services.


Reserve officers are compensated with non-financial rewards. They wear uniforms, may receive firearms at certain levels, and ride in police vehicles alongside sworn officers. They gain leaderships skills and become effective spokespersons for their communities. They’re able to see law enforcement from the inside, and can decide whether they would like to pursue a career in this profession. When regular job openings do occur, experience in the reserves is a highly regarded qualification.


Those applying to a reserve police program must meet the same qualifications as a sworn officer. In most cases, they must be at least 21 years old, be in good physical and mental health, possess a valid driver’s license, be a U.S. citizen and not have any criminal convictions. They must also pass several examinations including a background check, drug screening, medical test, polygraph exam, oral interview and written test. If accepted, reserve recruits receive training in the classroom and in the field, which may be considered part of their compensation. In the case of the LAPD, reservists can work at three levels, with each level representing a promotion with more responsibility, training and the use of more advanced equipment such as firearms.


Reserve officers must serve a certain number of hours per week or month. Their duties are often similar to sworn officers. They drive marked police vehicles to patrol highways and roads, and issue citations for any violations of the law. So that sworn officers can perform high priority tasks, reservists often answer low priority calls such as unlocking vehicles or dealing with nuisance animals. They may educate the public on crime prevention, secure crime scenes or transport prisoners to jail. Sworn officers often consider reservists a valuable asset and can request them to ride as second officers on patrol. All these duties provide a high degree of personal satisfaction, which forms a main benefit to becoming a reserve police officer.