Police department seeks new Reserve Constables

Volunteer service can be a stepping stone to a future career

Applications for the next Reserve Constable course must be received by Sept. 15.

If you’ve ever wondered about life as a police officer, you can check it out before committing, and help your community at the same time.

The Oak Bay Police Department is recruiting Reserve Constables to beef up its ranks.

Oak Bay Police Sgt. Rob Smith said the Reserve Constables are unpaid volunteers but the group can provide the perfect training for people with aspirations of being on a regular police force.

“It’s a stepping stone to see if it appeals to them,” Smith said.

The Oak Bay Police is one of 12 municipal police forces in the province. Smith said British Columbia is an exception as most provinces have provincial police forces.

“In B.C. the RCMP is the provincial police force,” he said.

Potential recruits for the Reserve Constables receive extensive training in areas ranging from legal studies to the use of force. Reserves do not carry guns but are trained in self-defence, hand-to-hand combat, use of tasers and other suppression techniques. Strict rules govern what their duties are.

Smith, once an auxiliary constable himself, said at one time Reserves were armed. Today, the program has Reserve Constables as backups and dealing with crime prevention and community policing.

Reserves are uniformed, trained in traffic direction and accompany regular officers on patrol.

In fact, many of the reserves are retired police officers.

“Where we use them most is in community events – the reserves are invaluable,” Smith said, noting that for community events such as runs and cycling events, the non-profit group has to have a traffic plan and Reserve Constables can be used rather than a regular police officer. There is also a “sharing” with Saanich reserves if need be.

Applicants for the reserves have to be between the ages of 19 and 60, live with the Capital Regional District and not have a criminal record. The requirements get a bit more stringent once the applicants are short-listed.

Smith said that they seek applicants who have a good balance of life experience. Misdeeds as a youth don’t necessarily disqualify someone from applying.

“You have to have lived a little bit of life to deal with people,” Smith said. “We don’t expect perfection but we do have to cover ourselves.

“We have a lot of people interested who are established community members, have families and great careers. They want to give back to the community in this particular way,” Smith said.

The Oak Bay Police Department currently has four Reserve Constables and is opening up two spots. The Saanich Police are running the training program and offered two spots to Oak Bay.

“The training is transferable,” Smith said.

Applicants need to pass physical and medical tests, possess a valid B.C. driver’s licence and be willing to commit to serving 12 to 16 hours a month.

“Most put in a lot more than that,” Smith said.

Successful candidates must complete the basic Reserve Officers training mandated by the BC Ministry of Justice. Training takes about four months with classes held one evening a week and one weekend day, and includes both practical and written exams.

The next Reserve Constable course is scheduled to start in November. Applications must be received prior to Sept. 15.

For more information or to apply to the OBPD Reserve Program, contact Sgt. Rob Smith at 250-592-2424 or email smith@oakbaypolice.org.