Reserves play vital role in Sheriff’s Office operations

Brian Hyde, Jim Kochinski and Chuck Rounds patrol near Lake Waconia during the Governor’s Fishing Opener earlier this year. Reserve deputies play a vital role in providing additional security for the Sheriff’s Office during public events like that one.
Brian Hyde, Jim Kochinski and Chuck Rounds patrol near Lake Waconia during the Governor’s Fishing Opener earlier this year. Reserve deputies play a vital role in providing additional security for the Sheriff’s Office during public events like that one.

For as long as he can remember, Brian Hyde wanted to be a police officer. For 25 years, his father served in the Los Angeles Police Department, and Hyde always wanted to be like his dad.

Ultimately, though, Hyde’s life went in a different direction. He served 9 years in the Marine Corps before leaving active duty in 2002 to take a job with the Air National Guard. Hyde still works as a full time Senior Master Sergeant with the 133rd Airlift Wing.

“I’ve been military for my entire adult life, and never got to pursue my ambition in law enforcement,” Hyde said.

Until the last year, that is.

In 2011, the Waconia resident was looking to get his daughter signed up for the Sheriff Explorers. While looking on the Web site, he came across the Sheriff’s Office Reserve program, which utilizes adult civilians to aid with several important patrol operations. Hyde felt it would be the perfect opportunity to finally get a taste of law enforcement, serve the community in which he lives, and still keep his full time job in the military.

“I have no intention to become a police officer or deputy now, because I feel that time has passed,” Hyde said. However, I can still make a positive impact for the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Carver County. I’ve been with the program since June 2011, and will continue to be a member as long as they’ll let me stay.”

Hyde is one of 16 Carver County residents that actively serve in the Sheriff’s Office Reserves. Typically called upon to handle things like event security, water patrol or traffic control, their role isn’t always that well known to the public. However, Lt. Dave Williams, the lieutenant liaison who oversees the Reserve program, said the role they play is vital to the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Office.

“They’re very important to our operations,” Williams said. “We’ve got some of the best volunteers out there, and we use them on so many things. They’re just a great resource. They really enhance the patrol division of the Sheriff’s Office, and they get to do things most people don’t get to see.”

The Reserves are responsible for numerous functions, including water patrol, snowmobile patrol and security at various fairs and festivals. They also can assist at crime scenes and traffic accidents, help with traffic control, aid in search and rescue operations, and respond to various non-violent police calls. During the first snowstorm of the year, several Reserves took a car out to respond to calls of vehicles in the ditch, freeing up deputies to respond to other situations.

Williams said water patrol during the summer is a particularly important role. For safety reasons, two people are required to be on patrol together, and being able to have a Reserve with a paid deputy removes a large burden from the Sheriff’s Office.

“That saves us tax money, because we don’t have to have a second paid deputy out there,” Williams said.

The Reserves can also play a key role in crime scenes and traffic accidents. They often may be called upon to control the perimeter of the scene or direct traffic around those situations, freeing up actual deputies to serve as investigators and responders.

“It’s a great program,” said Williams, who estimates he has been working with the unit for the last 14 years. “It’s a great thing for people in the community to do. It gives them a wonderful experience and a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes.”

While Hyde’s military background would seem to be a natural complement to law enforcement, members of the Reserves come from all walks of live. Jeff Munsterteiger of Norwood Young America, for instance, is a building inspector. Jim Kochinski of Victoria is a corporate lawyer. Both men say the chance to contribute to their community in a positive way was a large part of the calling they felt to join the Reserves.

“Both of my kids were actively involved in county activities and sports, and it’s just a great place to live,” Kochinski said. “Now that my kids are out of the house and don’t need me as much, I said, ‘what can I do to give back to the place that has made such a good home?”

For Kochinski, that was the Sheriff’s Office Reserves. He said he likes the variety of the work, and also being able to work closely with the local residents.

“It definitely gives you the feeling that you’re doing something with a purpose,” he said.

Munsterteiger said he also believes it is important to volunteer in the community, and that everybody has something they can contribute. He said he looked into several volunteer opportunities, but his interest in law enforcement ultimately led him to the Reserves.

“The Sheriff’s Office provides many chances to do lots of different things related to law enforcement,” Munsterteiger said. “I’ve had the chance to meet, work with and help out lots of really great people, and I’ve learned a lot about the county.”

While members of the Reserves are not actual deputies, they look a lot like them. They also wear the familiar brown uniforms that look almost identical to the deputies’ uniforms, complete with a badge and patch on the sleeve. Among the only differences are the facts that both the patch and badge feature the word “Reserve.”

While Reserves often work security at various community functions, they don’t have any more arrest power than the average citizen. However, they are trained in the use of force, and carry both a baton and mace.

After an initial application and interview process, all reserves are subject to a background check. At that point, they must see a doctor to make sure they’re fit, and pass a “Fit for Duty” exam. Reserves are trained in the use of force, right-to-know, HazMat, and sexual harassment training. The Sheriff’s Office also makes an attempt to get them enrolled in a Reserve School, which meets one night per week for 10 weeks, although that is not a requirement. The Reserves continue to meet for training once per month even after they become a member.

In addition to their own training, Reserves often assist with role playing for training exercises for other deputies. Williams recalls his own training for the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, when he said Reserve Deputies were a big part of the process.

“We could not have done the training we did without those role players,” he said.

The Operations Unit of the Sheriff’s Reserves has been so successful since its inception in 1955 that the Sheriff’s Office has now added a new administrative unit within the last several months. This unit will be used to provide administrative support for the Reserve program and provide education and information to the public through training and educational booths at community events.

Focused primarily on community relations, the new administrative unit will be especially helpful when it comes to the Sheriff’s Office’s new TRIAD program, which seeks to form a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office, Public Health, and the senior citizen community. Through presentations and various programs, the goal is to promote older adult safety and reduce the fear of crime that older residents often experience.

Williams said the new administrative unit of the Reserves will provide a way for more citizens to become active in the Sheriff’s Department. He said the idea was first hatched when a retired police secretary contacted the Sheriff’s Department to inquire if there were any ways she could help out.

“We didn’t have anything at that time, but it got us to thinking that there are probably a lot of people out there that have talents and skills we could use,” Williams said. “Plus, we found out some people don’t want to do the security and operations portion, because that tends to be more physically demanding.”

Those interested in applying to be a Reserve can find more information, as well as an application, at Applicants must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid Minnesota Drivers’ license, successfully pass a background check, attend monthly meetings on the last Monday evening of the month, pass a health assessment, be able to volunteer 16 hours per month, have strong communication skills, be of good moral character, and be willing and wanting to help their community.