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Rocklin Police Department expands reserve force

Maintains 9 officers in program used for entry-level hiring
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
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The recent departure of Rocklin Police Deputy Chief Dan Ruden has allowed the force to see a promotion surge.

Captain Lon Milka, who was promoted two weeks ago to take on much of Ruden’s former responsibilities, said an officer could move to sergeant and a sergeant to police lieutenant. An entry-level police officer will be hired, as well.

“We’re going to backfill behind his position to hire another officer,” Milka said.

Last year, Police Chief Ron Lawrence announced his department would only hire officers from its pool of reserve officers. Reserve officers volunteer their time. Last year, Lawrence eliminated the $16-per-hour compensation for new positions so he could expand the force without expanding the budget.

“By implementing a healthy reserve officer program, we are able to hire, train and observe reserve police officers as potential candidates to fill full-time positions as vacancies occur,” Lawrence said. “Our reserve police officers provide an important service by augmenting our full-time police officers.”

They are expected to be over 21, put themselves through a police academy and go through six 40-hour segments of training prior to their release to RPD’s Reserve Program, according to RPD. That includes work in every division within the department, including records, dispatch, traffic, patrol, investigations and evidence. They even take a test to learn the street names of Rocklin in a given beat area.

“This will help them familiarize themselves with the city and improve overall success and response times to calls for service,” Sgt. Bart Paduveris wrote in a 2012 program outline.

Reserve Officer Braden Shaw was one of the first ones in the new class last year. He has worked 1,100 volunteer hours since March 2012.

“I thoroughly enjoy coming to the police department, suiting up and being able to work with all the other officers,” he said. “I’ve had some great opportunities.”

Shaw volunteered to work on a county alcoholic beverage control task force and participated in his first pursuit, in which he collared a federal fugitive.

“We caught the guy and I will definitely remember that for the rest of my life,” Shaw explained. “It’s actually true what they say, ‘You fall back on your training and what you know.’ You put the safety of the public first.”

Shaw reports making 26 arrests and writing nearly 100 police reports while on patrol as a reserve officer.

“I’ve been out there,” Shaw said. “I ride with several field training officers. Everything is fine -tuned for the city of Rocklin.”

With this new opening, a total of three reserve officers will have moved into a sworn officer position since the policy change. Milka said the pool of reserve officers is growing.

“We have four reserve officers in the hiring process right now, in the background investigation stage,” he said.

Seven of the nine reserve officers on the force arrived just last year. One officer has been with the department since 1977.

“Police staffing levels in Rocklin remain at less than optimal levels,” Lawrence said. “While reserve police officers can never replace full-time officers, they do assist regular officers in their duties to allow us to provide a higher level of service to the community.”

Organizers hope the pool of reserves will strengthen Rocklin police’s reputation in regional law enforcement, as the officers find full-time work elsewhere, as well. The newly sworn full-time officer hiring is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.