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Friday, May 3, 2013 - 11:17am

Savannah Police Hiring Volunteers

Savannah is looking for volunteer police officers.

The city is embracing reserve officers for the first time after a seven year delay.

A change in police chiefs and an extensive review of liability issues led to the wait in implementing a reserve unit.

Unpaid officers are fairly common nationwide.

They help fill the ranks, especially for emergencies and large events, without adding much to the budget.

Savannah Police Chief Willie Lovett says not just anyone volunteer.

"The difference will be zero between a regular police officer and a reserve police officer," Lovett says. "They have to go through the same training. They have to maintain the same qualifications and everything."

Lovett is targeting retired officers, many of whom want to keep a foot in the policing door and remain eligible for paid, off-duty work.

Brooke Webster of the New York-based Reserve Police Officers Association says a lot of times, police departments are hesitant to hire volunteers.

"I think there's a problem with law enforcement that tends to be a little in-grown and feels, 'Well, civilians can't do any part of our job.' And that's not correct," Webster says. "There are lot of reserves out there who are very dedicated and have been doing it for a long time."

The unit will start with about 30 officers out of a total force of about 600.