Next Friday’s fish fry at the LaGrange County 4-H Fairgrounds is not only a good time to visit with others and enjoy some great fish, but it also helps the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department’s reserve officers and K9 units.
The county currently has 10 reserve officers, all of whom volunteer their time to serve the county. “They have the same responsibilities as full-time officers,” noted Arron Knisley, who is the communications director for the department, who works with one of the department’s K9 units, Kayla.
Reserve officers get a small stipend for equipment and the LaGrange County Parks Department pays a small fee to have reserve officers close up the parks each evening. Officers also work area events, including high school sports and festivals, and the department receives fees for that. But that only just begins to cover the cost of uniforms, equipment and maintenance on the four department cars earmarked for the reserves.
Reserve officers go through four months of training in the reserve academy, totaling over 300 hours and held at the LaGrange Police Department. “We study everything,” noted Reserve Officer Justin Gagnon, listing off some of the areas: “Criminal law. Defensive tactics. Firearms training. OWI detection. Hazmat. Domestic violence calls.” All of that, he said, are things that the officers will see and face in the real world. “I didn’t realize that that much went into it,” he said. “But every day, every call is different. Nothing is routine.” Gagnon graduated from the reserve academy two years ago and works a full-time third shift job, then works as a reserve officer “every time I’m available.”
It’s a lot of work and time to do something on a volunteer basis. “I live in the county,” Gagnon explained. “I want to help any way I can to make it a safe environment here. And we don’t have the resources of the larger counties.”
Knisley pointed out that the county gets 250-350 hours per month of patrol and additional coverage thanks to the reserve officers.
The department is taking applications for the next reserve academy. Applicants will need to pass the same background and physical tests that department deputies go through.
There are tickets available for the fish fry. Those who wish to purchase a ticket to be entered in the prize giveaway but don’t plan to attend the dinner can donate the tickets back, which will be given to the Department of Family and Children and the LaGrange County Clothes and Food Basket.