Last December, Isle of Palms Police Department (IOPPD) suffered a personnel shortage after a slew of resignations. Since then, the department has recovered from its decline in officers and has found a way to implement further stability.
At November's Public Safety Committee meeting, IOPPD Police Chief Kevin Cornett requested to reinstitute a reserve officer program. The city's program has been discontinued for several years. Cornett explained he would like to bring it back in light of a recent officer's retirement and inquiry into returning as a reserve officer for IOPPD.
At council's Nov. 19 meeting, the proposal passed unanimously with no discussion. However, Cornett further explained the logistics to the Moultrie News and expressed what the reserve officer program means for the future of IOPPD.
The program's primary purpose is to provide additional manpower to the department during emergencies or special events which would otherwise affect the department's ability to provide adequate policing. Implementing a reserve officer program is a cost-effective method to supply additional resources during times when call volume is the highest.
A reserve police officer is an unpaid volunteer who must be certified by a law enforcement agency and approved through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Reserve officers are required maintain 20 hours a month of service time in order to maintain his certification as a reserve officer.
The only cost the city will be held responsible to pay for is worker's compensation if the reserve officer is injured on the job. Also, a fee no less than $1,500 to make sure the reserve officer is bonded for an amount of the city's choosing anywhere between 1-15%.
Cornett clarified that the department cannot decrease the number of full-time police officers because of the institution or expansion of a reserve officer program.
In order to be an authorized agency the police department will complete an application to be submitted to the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy. Once the department is approved the agency head will complete the application every July, when an agency head changes, when a reserve officer is removed or when a reserve officer is added.
FTO Chris Sanders, who recently resigned from IOPPD, will be the first enrolled. Cornett anticipates Sanders' transition to be complete within two to three months.
"We have an opportunity to continue to draw from (Sanders') experience as he volunteers to serve and protect those that live, work and visit our beautiful island," Cornett added.