Massachusetts Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Association

About The Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer

You've probably seen them on patrol or at an emergency scene and didn't notice anything special about them, as they tend to blend in. These brave men and women work alongside career police officers, providing essential support to law enforcement agencies, except they do it without compensation. They are ordinary men and women who volunteer their time to do an extraordinary job, serving their country by serving their communities as uniformed officers. Time and again, they put themselves in harm's way doing a job that most people only ever watch on television. In Massachusetts, Auxiliary, Reserve and Special police officers and sheriff's deputies are on-call 24 hours a day, often leaving home or work on a moment's notice, never knowing what the next emergency call out or scheduled patrol shift will bring. They do it only for a love of country and community and a calling to serve their fellow citizens.

Volunteer law enforcement programs have come a long way in the past 70 or more years. Many of Massachusetts volunteer units originated in the days of Civil Defense during and following the Second World War, when local law enforcement agencies recruited and trained volunteers to serve as auxiliary police forces in the event of mass evacuations and other major disasters. Today's volunteer law enforcement units are an integral part of modern law enforcement agencies, augmenting the patrol, special operations, and emergency preparedness capabilities of departments throughout the Commonwealth. Auxiliary, Reserve and Special police officers and sheriff's deputies wear familiar uniforms similar to full-time personnel and drive marked police vehicles. They perform a wide variety of duties that enhance the quality and volume of police services that local law enforcement agencies are able to provide to their communities.

Common duties include:

  • Patrolling public infrastructure, parks, and schools;
  • Assisting at medical calls, fire calls, and accident scenes;
  • Assisting with low priority activities, keeping career officers free for high priority calls;
  • Working as a "second officer" on patrol with career officers;
  • Providing security and a police presence at school and community events;
  • Assisting stalled/stranded motorists;
  • Administering crime prevention, child safety and other public safety programs;
  • Securing crime scenes and protecting evidence;
  • Directing traffic;
  • Augmenting resources during declared states of emergency;
  • Assisting with search and rescue operations;
  • Assisting career officers in their departments with a variety of activities, as requested

The duties of volunteer officers can vary considerably from one agency to another, as does their designation as either auxiliary, reserve or special officers and deputies. Some towns, cities and counties have more progressive volunteer programs and utilize volunteer officers in a wide variety of capacities, while others have basic programs with limited duties for volunteer officer. The required training varies as well; usually commensurate with the duties the officers are assigned to perform.

Some volunteer officers are pursuing careers in professional law enforcement, but many are civic-minded adults wanting to give back to their communities. Law enforcement volunteer officers come from all professions, blue collar and white collar, and represent all income levels, age groups, ethnicity's, and lifestyles. They share a common patriotism and calling to public service and an uncommon dedication to their avocation as professional law enforcement volunteers.

Auxiliary, Reserve and Special officers represent the very finest of American citizens, giving their time to serve in uniform doing one of the most challenging and dangerous volunteer jobs in the United States of America.

The MA-VLEOA encourages citizens to find out more about law enforcement volunteer units and volunteer opportunities in their communities.

Source: Minnesota Police Reserve Officers Association  (adapted for Massachusetts Law Enforcement Volunteers)


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