Monday, January 5, 2015

Road to Reserves - The Selection Process

Volunteer reserve deputies at the Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) assist regular paid deputies in their work on patrol and in the jail. Reserve deputies wear the same uniform as regular deputies, carry a firearm, and have arrest authority. Reserves are required to volunteer at least 16 hours (typically two shifts) per month, participate in periodic training, and attend a monthly meeting.

Many individuals get involved with the reserve program in order to gain valuable experience before applying for a paid position. Others already have a job they enjoy and volunteer as a way to give back to their local community in an exciting way!

The application process to join the WCSO reserve program lasts from May through December each year. Going through each of the steps and waiting to see whether you're moving forward in the process can be a roller coaster of emotion, but it all feels worth it when the day comes to be fitted for your duty uniform!

Here are the steps involved with applying:

Online Application. This brief online form allows the WCSO to collect your contact information and ensures you will be contacted for subsequent steps in the testing process. Apply online now by clicking here. 
Police Officer Standardized Test (POST Exam). This multiple choice and written answer test scores the applicant on math, grammar, reading comprehension, and basic writing skills. More information on the POST can be found here. 
Physical Abilities Test (PAT). This test involves completing an obstacle course six times and dragging a 60-pound dummy for 25-feet, all in under five minutes and 30 seconds. The course includes balance, jumping, ducking, stairs, leaping, and endurance.
Panel Interview. An interview with a panel of four to five individuals, including the patrol sergeant who supervises the reserve deputy program, regular patrol deputies, and current reserve deputies.
Background Interview. You will have previously submitted a 23-page notarized Statement of Personal History packet at the PAT exam. Now comes the time to sit down with a background investigator (often a retired detective) and discuss all the information you provided in the packet.
Commander Interview. An interview with a lieutenant and the commander of the patrol division.
Psychological Exam. Completed in one day, the psychological examination contains approximately six hours of "bubble" tests, computer exams, and an interview.
Medical Exam. Also completed in one day, the medical examination includes about three hours of various tests, a meeting with a physician, and a trip to the lab for blood work.

Although I was already an employee of the WCSO when I applied for the volunteer reserve position, I went through the same application process as the other applicants.

I had the benefit of knowing a lot about the Sheriff's Office and the role of a reserve deputy as I went through the selection process. This proved especially valuable in my interviews. There are many ways for you, as a citizen, to learn just as much and to better prepare yourself to apply for a volunteer reserve deputy position.

Take some time to read through our WCSO website, including the page about the reserve program.  Sign up to receive our Sheriff's Office News via email and apply to join our next session of Community Academy.

You can even apply to participate in a jail job shadow or patrol ride along via the forms on our website. Strike up a conversation with a staff member in the office or a deputy out in the community.

We also have a wide variety of other volunteer and intern opportunities at the WCSO. These programs require less of an ongoing time commitment and are often a great way to get your foot in the door. Learn more and apply for these positions online!

I was fortunate enough to receive a letter formally accepting me into the program in early December of 2014. Out of 206 applicants, nine of us will be starting the academy tomorrow night.

I'll report back next week with what we cover in our first three classes!

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