By Gene Mim Mack, Mayor of Stevensville
Last week’s letter about the Reserve Officers and our Police Department caused me to realize that many in the community might not understand the role of the Reserve Officer within the Police Department. After talking with Town Reserve Officers, the true scope and dedication that these Officers bring to the job is staggering.
The Town of Stevensville does have Reserve Officers – in fact we have seven Reserve Officers who supplant our one full-time paid Police Officer and one full-time paid Police Chief. These seven Reserve Officers are 100% volunteer, they are 100% unpaid and they are not eligible for any health insurance benefits.
Here’s what these unpaid volunteers do to become Reserve Officers:
1. The State requires 88 hours of training. Many of our Reservists put in more than 200 hours towards becoming a Stevensville Reserve Police Officer, well in excess of State law.
2. Within this mandatory training, each Reservist undergoes training in:
• 30 hours of firearms qualifications
• Montana State law training
• Partner family member assault training
• Accident investigation training
• Traffic stop training
• Felony stop training
• Radar detector training
• First aid/CPR training
• Taser training
• Baton training
• Defensive tactics
• Pressure point training
• Town of Stevensville policy training
• Reserve Officer policy training
Additionally, each Reserve Officer pays for everything they need to perform their volunteer job. This includes though is not limited to:
• Uniform: $1,500 – $2,000
• Firearm: $300 – $500 (cost of one firearm – some Reservists choose to purchase a backup firearm at an additional personal expense)
• Ballistic vest: $1,000 – $1,500
• Badge: $125
The Town provides each Reservist the following supplies to use as they perform their volunteer job:
• Use of radio
• Duty ammunition
• Pepper spray
• Taser and cartridges
To maintain their active reserve status, each Reserve Officer must perform a minimum of 16 hours of patrol shifts per quarter. As a Reserve Officer they can only be on patrol with a full-time Officer.
I spoke to one of the Town’s Reserve Officers about why they would go to these lengths to do a non-paid job. They said without hesitation, “because I want to help people. Sure I’d like to do it full time, but if that’s not possible, I will do it as a volunteer.”
As to the questions raised about the water system, many parts of the system were over 75 years old and had simply worn out. There were hundreds of gallons leaking throughout the main line water system and a method of repairing and paying for needed upgrades that was shared by all users had to be found.
The State DEQ regulations also made it imperative that we replace our ground water system with a deep well system for the safety and sustainability of the system for the residents of the Town. I think that is important to remember the history of Stevensville shows that generations before us designed, built and paid for infrastructure developments that we have benefited from. By continuing that commitment to our future we make it possible to leave something to our children and their children just as previous residents did for us.
You, the residents of Stevensville, own your water system. In contrast, Missoula is looking at millions of dollars to try to buy their water system back. To suggest that someone was “bought” is an insult to the dedicated hard working women and men who work on your behalf in the Town of Stevensville.