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Developing a Modernized Reserve Unit: Civil Liability Considerations

By Christopher L. McFarlin, J.D., Criminal Justice
Police agencies must consider the potential liability of having reserve officers who are undertrained, insufficiently equipped, or poorly screened. Some police agencies create a substantial contrast between their reserve officers and their full-time officers. It is essential for administrators to understand that the courts do not make this distinction when assessing liability. With no effective distinction in the views of the law or the public, agencies must hold their reserves to the same level of scrutiny as regular officers when hiring, terminating, training, and developing them.