This guest post was submitted by Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner.
On January 3rd 2019 there was an article written in reference to law enforcement agencies routinely using unlicensed, unregulated officers for law enforcement purposes. In that article, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office is referenced. As the newly elected Cass County Sheriff, I feel that it is essential that the Cass County Sheriff’s Office remains transparent and educates our citizens on all the public safety services our office provides along with the professionalism and integrity our office adheres to. In reading the article, I believe it is important to clarify how we currently utilize our Sheriff’s Reserve Unit.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit is currently comprised of fifteen (15) volunteer uniformed sworn deputies who serve under the authority of the Cass County Sheriff. The primary function of the Sheriff’s Reserve Unit is to assist in maintaining public safety which could include working special events such as street dances, the Red River Valley Fair, parades, traffic control, and other activities as assigned. They also participate in community outreach events such as Cops and Kids, Hometown Heroes, Night to Unite and many others. A select few are authorized to supplement our patrol division by attaining enough training hours to provide patrol functions. In addition, the Sheriff’s Reserve Program is fiscally responsible and saves the citizens of Cass County tax payer dollars.
The selection process for those wanting to apply is very rigorous. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office conducts a criminal record prescreening before any applicant would be eligible for an interview. The remaining applicants then participate in an interview process. If selected after the interview process, the applicant would then go through a full background investigation to include fingerprinting, a polygraph examination, a psychological examination, a drug screening, a credit history check and reference checks.
Here is an example of our vetting process; In 2017-2018 there were thirty-five (35) applicants in which ten were eliminated through the criminal pre-screening process. Fourteen (14) were offered interviews. From those fourteen (14), seven (7) were selected and progressed to the full background investigation. Upon conclusion of the background investigation, three were selected into the reserve unit. In our current selection process twenty-eight (28) there were applicants, eighteen (18) were offered interviews thirteen (13) were selected and to date five (5) have successfully completed the background portion. Four (4) are still pending completion of their background investigations.
Those Reserve Deputies who don’t conform themselves to the standards and expectations of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office may be suspended or dismissed from the Reserve Program at any time.
Once a Reserve Deputy is selected they must attend approximately 103 hours of training in the first year before becoming deputized. Some of the training each Reserve Deputy attends is North Dakota POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) approved and instructed by an approved North Dakota Peace Officer Instructor. Those instructors have attended an approved Methods of Instruction Course regulated by the North Dakota POST Board. After the first year of training, a Reserve Deputy receives an additional 50 hours of training each year while enrolled in the program. All training records are maintained by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.
Before a Reserve Deputy is authorized to work patrol shifts, they need to have completed 425 hours of training to include working with a Field Training Officer, which is a full time licensed patrol deputy. Once they have completed this training, they are Field Readiness Trained (FRT) and can assist in working patrol functions. Some of this training includes but is not limited to use of force training, OC (pepper spray) training, taser training, defensive driving training, standard field sobriety testing training, CPR/AED training, firearms qualification/certifications, evidence processing, criminal and traffic law training, and suicide awareness training to name a few.
As stated above, The Cass County Sheriff’s Office will always strive to maintain a high level of public safety, integrity, professionalism, transparency and training. My goal is to provide the best public service to our citizens with the amount of resources available. Anyone with additional questions in reference to our Reserve Program can contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Office for additional information.