Looking to supplement the current staff, the Escalon Police Department has gone on a bit of a hiring spree.
But the new hires are not fulltime officers, rather, they are new Level 1 reserve officers, who can come in and fill in a variety of shifts and handle duties much the way patrol officers do.
“After filling our ranks for regular sworn officers, we began recruiting Level 1 reserves,” Police Chief Mike Borges explained. “We have hired three since I have been here.”
The chief hasn’t quite been here a year, but said he felt recruiting for the Level 1, along with re-energizing a volunteer patrol, needed to be among his priorities, based on direction from the city council.
All three Level 1 reserves are currently going through their FTO, Field Training Officer, program, working with training officers before they will be able to take shifts on their own. Level 1 allows the officers to work independently, without a sworn officer with them. Another two potential reserve officers are currently in background checks.
The newest reserves are Sergio Lopez, Elmer Cruz and Chad Collins, who was sworn in at an Escalon City Council meeting earlier this month.
“They have all attended police academies,” Borges said of getting well-qualified personnel.
Cruz and Collins graduated from the Delta College Police Academy, while Lopez attended the Modesto Junior College Police Academy.
Borges said he is pleased that the department is being proactive, filling a need before one arises.
“I shared it with the council – back in September – that I was going to be looking at trying to attract more Level 1 reserves,” Borges said. “Two basic reasons behind it; it gives us a trained staff to supplement our current officers and, if necessary, backfill shifts, if we have a long term departure due to injury or illness.”
Best of all, Borges said, it also gives the city a trained ‘hiring pool’ if the department loses an officer to resignation or retirement.
“We have a pool of trained personnel that we can immediately put into place,” Borges noted, which benefits the department and the community, as there will be no loss of continuity in the city having officers on the street.
Once they have completed their FTO training, the reserve officers are required to put in a minimum of 16 hours a month. Borges said all typically put in more hours than that, so it hasn’t been a problem to meet the minimum.
“We are also trying to resurrect our volunteers program,” Borges said, adding that Sgt. Gustavo Flores is the likely candidate to take over leadership of that program.
“Once somebody takes that on, we will be soliciting for new volunteers,” Borges explained. “We have our Explorers program; that is for those up to age 21, the volunteer program would be for any adults that would be interested.”
Those that want more information can stop by the police station on McHenry or call 209-691-7301.