A Dedicated Reserve Deputy Solved a Murder that Happened Decades Ago
Congratulations to the 1st Reserve Academy Graduates!
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For these Deputies, it’s all work and no pay…
By Cindy Swirko
By career, they are lawyers, builders, physician’s assistants. As volunteers, they are reserve deputies with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office — fully certified law enforcers who combined provide hundreds of hours of service to the department at no cost.These reserve deputies must volunteer at least 12 hours a month. They can check out patrol cars, carry weapons and do everything regular deputies do, said reserve Lt. Steve Miller, who oversees the program. He added that the Sheriff’s Office has liability policies to cover the reserves.”If you saw a reserve deputy right next to a full-time deputy, you couldn’t tell them apart. They handle the same kinds of calls — from one end of the gamut to the next,” Miller said. “It’s very interesting. When we tell people about the program, they say, ‘Are you kidding me — these people run around and do this for free?’”The Sheriff’s Office has had a reserve program for decades. When Miller started as a reserve deputy about 20 years ago, the program had about 30 members. That dipped to about six when Miller was given authority over the unit about two years ago.ASO now has 14 reserve deputies. More are in training, and a new level of reserve is being created that would require less training but would limit the kinds of tasks the reserves can do.Sheriff Sadie Darnell is a big fan of reserves and said she wants to boost their ranks.”One of the first things that I wanted to do when I came in as sheriff four years ago was to build up the reserve program. I wanted to build it up to a true force multiplier, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be,” Darnell said. “We see it as a great way to maximize our resources. A strong aspect of it is community-building.”Some of the reservists are retired law enforcement officers. Greg Lyons, for instance, was a deputy from 2000 to 2004 and left to take a job as a sales representative for Honeywell System Sensor.Lyons said he became a reservist to keep his hand in law enforcement.”It’s the camaraderie. I have a lot of friends with the Sheriff’s Office, and its definitely part of the family,” he said.Greg Thompson flew helicopters in the military and is now a physician’s assistant in the emergency room at North Florida Regional Medical Center. Thompson said he wanted to join the reserves to serve the community, adding that he had to go through 880 hours of training to now do the work of a deputy for free. He’s been in the reserves for three years.”I got tired of hearing myself say there aren’t enough deputies on the road,” Thompson said. “Law enforcement is very challenging and rewarding at the same time. It’s an immense personal satisfaction.”Go to http://alachuareservedeputy.com/ for more information about the reserve program.Behind the Badge is a weekly series profiling area law enforcement and public safety officers contributing to their community. If you know of an officer we should profile, contact Cindy Swirko at 374-5024 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheriff’s Office Begins Enforcing Airboat Curfew
by Cindy Swirko
Those who ignore the airboat curfew on Orange Lake soon will find themselves hunted down by law enforcement — using an airboat themselves — in the middle of the night.
Reserve deputies with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office have a donated airboat and are ready to skim along the lake to find airboaters between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and potentially slap them with a fine of $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.
“We’ve been working on this for over a year to try to get methods to respond to the complaints,” Sheriff Sadie Darnell said. “It’s low-cost because the reserves are volunteers and we got the donation of the airboat.”
Darnell credited reserve unit Capt. Steve Miller with putting together the program. Deputies were out on the lake last week talking to airboaters and residents, handing out fliers on the curfew and putting up notices at boat ramps along the lake in both Alachua and Marion counties.
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For more news and media events, you can visit alachuasheriff.org and click on the “News/Media” link.