FRAMINGHAM — The Massachusetts Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Association (MA-VLEOA) would like to bring attention to a recent article in a leading nationwide police publication. The article highlights the benefits of reserve and volunteer police officers for increasing transparency and community ties amid nationwide police reform.
The article was written by Dr. Adam Dobrin, an associate professor at the School of Criminology at Florida Atlantic University, and Dr. Ross Wolf, interim assistant provost and professor at the University of Central Florida, and reserve chief deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. Dr. Wolf is also the president of the Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Alliance, and serves on the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Police Administration Committee.
“What better way to ensure that those in the community can relate with and understand the role of policing in society than to properly train them to serve in part-time roles while also serving in other positions and roles in society,” Dobrin and Wolf wrote in an article published on Dec. 31 in Police 1 magazine. “Enlisting members of society to serve in roles within police agencies allows for the ultimate transparency, enabling community members to provide input, understand the role and function of policing, and learn first-hand about the complexities of serving society in this role.”
The MA-VLEOA is sharing the article as it continues to push for more flexible regulations governing the training and experience required for reserve and volunteer officers in Massachusetts.
“Law enforcement agencies can not be islands separate from the rest of their communities, and reserve police programs provide a bridge to bring community members and police together in a professional and collaborative environment, all for the betterment of the community,” said MA-VLEOA President Marc Spigel. “Dr. Dobrin and Dr. Wolf’s message is one we would like to share in communities across the Commonwealth.”
Dobrin and Wolf also touched on the pathway to law enforcement careers that reserve officer programs often create, and the way reserve officers can create a resource for full-time officers and communities.
“Often those recruited to serve part-time roles decide that this is something that they want to do as a career,” Dobrin and Wolf wrote. “Countless police leaders can point to the time they spent as a reserve officer as the impetus for moving to a full-time position and policing as a career.”
Wolf, who has worked both as a full-time officer and as a reserve officer, first got into full-time police work himself because of his experience as a reserve, and he took a pay cut to make the switch because he found law enforcement to be such a personal calling after experiencing it as a reserve.
The Police 1 article stressed the importance of ensuring reserve officers are adequately trained for the sake of the public, the agencies involved, and the officers themselves.
“We want to share this article as we continue to push for more flexible training to be offered here in Massachusetts, especially as the Commonwealth seeks to increase bonds between communities and police, and to address recruiting difficulties,” Spigel said. “Reserve Officers are an important resource that strengthens a connection between communities and the law enforcement agencies that serve them. Training is vitally important, but if we want community members to be able to contribute in this way, we must ensure that training is readily available and fits the schedule of employed community members.”
MA-VLEOA is fully supportive of additional training requirements for reserve officers that were implemented as a result of the Massachusetts police reform law, but is pushing for the state to make the hands-on training included in the requirements more widely available on nights and weekends to facilitate the needs of reserve officers who have other full-time careers. The organization is also concerned about requirements that reserve officers have at least 2,400 hours of experience with arrest powers by January of 2027, as many of the state’s reserve officers do not work enough hours to meet the requirement. If Reserve Officers do not meet that experience requirement, they must attend a full-time police academy under the new regulations. Without changes to the new requirements, reserve police officer programs around the Commonwealth could be crippled.
Wolf said he was unaware of any mandated reserve officers training that did not offer flexibility in scheduling anywhere else in the United States.
“I am not aware of any requirements in any state where volunteer police officers must take time away from their paying job in order to receive mandatory training that is only held on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” Wolf said. “Flexibility is an important key in making volunteer policing successful.”
To read the full article, click here.
To learn more about the Massachusetts Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Association, click here.