A Law enforcement agency refers to a body mandate to detect, respond or prevent crime within either the local or state level. Law enforcement agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are federal agencies that work within and outside the nation. Recently, there has been a growing concern over the increase in volunteers in law enforcement agencies. The concern calls for a discussion of the pros and cons of having volunteers in law enforcement agencies to understand the program’s efficacy.
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Volunteers are critical in leveraging the resources of law enforcement agencies and thus improving the public’s safety. Within the police department, volunteers help in undertaking less risky tasks. As volunteers undertake these tasks, the full-time officers get enough time to get to the streets to enhance policing. Volunteer police also provide free and flexible labor to different policing departments (Dobrin 4). Police departments with more volunteers end up financially saving more as they do not need to employ paid part-time officers or full-time officers when serving special events or seasonal needs.
Law enforcement volunteers also supplement the agencies by providing special skills which might not be present among the full-time officers. The unique skills might include medical, technical diving, interpreting, or boat operations. As volunteers commonly hold different full-time jobs, they are likely to possess different skillsets. The volunteer program also serves as an ad hoc apprentice initiative where departments can source the best potential full-time officers. This program reduces the turnover rate, and training cost as the department can pick the best officers at a reduced financial risk.
There are various demerits associated with Law enforcement volunteer programs, like increased cost in creating and maintaining the program. The police department has to spend highly in training and equipping volunteers. Another drawback of the program is the likelihood of conflict between volunteer police and full-time officers, as volunteers might earnings from overtime and off-duty payments. The volunteers might also be prone to conflicts from unions, thereby affecting their acceptance from full-time paid officers (Dobrin 9). As volunteer officers work for eight to sixteen hours a month, they might fail to gain the experience of full-time officers.
The infrequent engagement of police volunteers to the tasks reduces their likelihood to master their duties, thereby questioning the efficacy of the entire program. Nonetheless, the law enforcement volunteering program seems to have significant benefits compared to the demerits to enforcement departments and the public. Therefore, it seems prudent to the extent of the program as it brings more resources to ensure efficient law enforcement.
Dobrin, Adam. “Volunteer Police: History, Benefits, Costs and Current Descriptions.” Security Journal, vol. 30, no. 3, 2017, pp. 717–733., Web.