Changes coming to reserve deputy program

Posted at 8:23 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 08:28:44-04

On the heels of scandal surrounding Robert Bates, now on trial for second degree manslaughter, the reserve deputy program was suspended indefinitely.

"The hammer drops and we can't do anything," Mike Leitch, a Tulsa County Reserve Deputy said.

Many Tulsa County Reserve Deputies, like Leitch, were left wondering if or when they'd serve again.

"It was heartbreaking. I had just made advanced status just a few months before and was able to check out a patrol car and go out on my own ... answer calls for service."

Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado said prior to the suspension of the program, there were 129 reserve deputies. Now, there are eight that are anxious to get back in the game, waiting for their new leader to make the call.

Under the newly reinstated program, those waiting for the suspension to be lifted will be reevaluated. The sheriff will look at who is fit for duty, where each reserve deputy stands in their training and if they are ready to perform in a patrol function.

"They will no longer be on the SWAT team," Regalado said. "They will no longer be a part of task forces or anything like that. But what their responsibilities will be are assisting in events, in a patrol function, and it hasn't been decided if they will patrol by themselves or in a partnership with a full-time deputy."

Those who patrol will have to go through more training, making them equivalent to a full-time deputy. A captain will also be assigned as oversee to the program, making sure deputies are getting the set amount of work hours required to maintain their status.

Regalado said there will be no favoritism, that his system will be set in stone and everyone will have equal opportunity and treatment.

"I'm not some, you know, wealthy donor, wealthy reserve that's, you know, given thousands of dollars in vehicles, etcetera to the sheriff's office," Leitch said. "I'm just a guy."

Leitch said other reserve deputies feel the same way and are excited about the sheriff's new changes.

Regalado said he has anticipated reinstating the program in 30 days, however he said he will not rush it.

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