Farmville Creating Auxiliary Police Force

Published 5:07 pm Thursday, December 22, 2011

FARMVILLE – The Town of Farmville has sworn in the first member of its auxiliary police force.

The police department, which answered 1,438 calls for service in November, is expected to see two more auxiliary officers take their oath of office in the near future.

The auxiliary officers, who are donating their time, will have the same powers as any other Farmville police officer, wearing the same uniform.

When on duty, the auxiliary officers will ride with one of the Town's regular duty police officers.

“Anybody who is a member of this they're already a certified officer,” Police Chief Doug Mooney explained to members of Town Council during a briefing on the auxiliary officers. Town Council adopted the ordinance necessary to establish the auxiliary police force as allowed by state law, and with a maximum of six auxiliary officers.

“I have two people that are certified police officers. All I have to do is give them a uniform and outfit them and keep their certification up to date,” Chief Mooney said.

“One is an auxiliary officer with Ashland and another one-we've been keeping his certification current. They can help us with anything. They have to put in a minimum number of hours per month in order to be on the auxiliary force. And they've agreed to do that,” Chief Mooney said of the auxiliary officers, who also pass a background check.

“And they have the same powers as paid police officers,” the police chief told Town officials, “but they're doing it for free.”

When asked by council member Dr. Edward I. Gordon about rules governing when the auxiliary officers can act to enforce the law, the police chief explained that, “It has to be a policy in our manual that governs them. They will only be expected to take action when they are working, which is a schedule that the police department approves.”

Unless there is an obvious situation demanding an immediate response when they are off-duty.

“They can take action if something happens in front of them and clearly they have to do something,” Chief Mooney elaborated.

When on duty, they will not be patrolling or acting alone.

“When they do come out they'll be riding with one of our regular duty police officers,” Chief Mooney said. “They may be working events-Heart of Virginia, supplementing us for that. They will be under our total control as far as the schedule and when they do take actions.”

When asked if town residents will be able to identify them as police officers, Chief Mooney said the auxiliary police force members “will be in full uniform…They are fully sworn and fully certified.”

The auxiliary force will be dressed, council member David E. Whitus clarified, “like regular police officers?”

“Yes, sir,” Chief Mooney told him.

“The public will not be able to really draw a distinction” between the regular police force and the auxiliary officers, Whitus concluded.

“No, sir and really there is no distinction,” Chief Mooney said, “other than the fact that they are not getting paid.

“Their training,” the police chief said of the auxiliary police officers, “is just as current as any one of us.”

The third individual poised to become an auxiliary police officer is typical of those who will fill that role in Farmville.

“I have a third person that's interested and he's a retired police officer who just wants to keep active,” Chief Mooney explained. “They want to keep their certification up also, but they have the desire to give back.”

The Town of Farmville is willing to receive the free law enforcement the officers are willing to give to the community.

The Town's ordinance reads as follows:

“Pursuant to Virginia Code…for the further preservation of the public peace, safety and good order of the community, the town hereby establishes an auxiliary police force, which will have all the powers and authority and all the immunities of full-time law enforcement officers; if such forces have met the training requirements established by the Department of Criminal Justice Services…

“The police chief is hereby authorized to appoint as auxiliary police officers as many persons of good character as he deems necessary, not to exceed six. The chief of police is also authorized to prescribe the uniform, organization, and such rules as he deems necessary for the operation of the auxiliary police force.

“The auxiliary police officers may be called into service as provided in Va. Code…In addition, the members of the auxiliary police force who have been trained in accordance with the provisions of Va. Code…may be called into service by the chief of police, or his designee, to aid and assist regular police officers in the performance of their duties.”

One of those is already sworn in.

“We did select and swore-in our first auxiliary officer,” Chief Mooney told Town Council last week. “He comes to us from Ashland PD (police department). He's certified by the state to be a police officer.”

And he's donating those certified skills to the Town of Farmville.