Local officials talk reserve deputy protocol after Oklahoma shooting

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JACKSON, Tenn. — After a fatal shooting in Oklahoma by a reserve deputy who said he mistook his service weapon for his Taser, WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News talked to local officials about the use of reserve deputies in Madison County. Almost four dozen reserve deputies volunteer with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff John Mehr said you wouldn’t know the difference between them and a full-time deputy. He said the volunteers must go through at least 80 hours of training and be certified before they can wear a badge. “They do firearm certification, they do Tasers, they do crime scene, they do the whole ram of training that a regular office goes through,” Mehr said. Mehr said the only on-the-job difference between a full-time deputy and a reserve deputy is the amount of hours they work and the paycheck. “They carry guns, they carry Tasers, they carry everything that a regular officer carries,” he said. Mehr said the volunteer reserve deputies work one eight-hour shift each month or three times in a quarter but do not receive a paycheck. “You see them focused because that’s something they enjoy,” Mehr said. “They want to make the department proud, and they do that.” Mehr said the reserve deputies allow a greater presence on the streets and many times move from reserve to full time. “There is extensive background,” he said. “There is a 16-page application just like a regular employee, and they go through the same psychological evaluation, they go through the same health evaluation.” Mehr says reservists usually are with a full-time deputy but that there are no restrictions for what they can do on the job. Mehr said the new group of reserves coming in will begin with 100 hours of training. An article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin said in 2006 it was estimated there were 400,000 reserve deputies across the country.

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