The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Sheriff’s reserves aid deputies at jail, in field

If wearing olive-green slacks several times a month doesn’t appeal to job-seekers, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Reserves staff is hoping some of their training tactics will.

While most volunteer opportunities don’t include using a Taser and firearms or learning self-defense techniques, theirs does.

And department officials are hoping to double the 12 reserves it currently employs.

Since losing some of the reserves to full-time positions, there is a need for more applicants, said Reserve Deputy Sheriff Joshua Gersten. In the last four months, the department has lost three employees, who joined the UI, Coralville, and Iowa City police.

“As a reserve, you have a foot in the door,” he said. “They know you, so it’s easier for you to get hired.”

The department originally planned to end its annual monthlong search for reserves on Oct. 30. But after receiving only roughly 10 applications, it has extended the period through Nov. 13.

Reserves assist the Sheriff’s Office with traffic control, security at fairs, and guarding prisoners at the jail. After receiving required training, the volunteers may carry weapons, work patrol shifts on their own, and sometimes be paid for assignments.

Mike Sieverding said he started volunteering for the department after the 9/11 terrorist attacks inspired him.

“I wanted to do something to support our country,” he said. “My wife would have killed me if I joined the military, so I joined the reserves.”

Reserves also get valuable experience in the public-safety field.

Sieverding recalled a night when he was sent to North Liberty to respond to a domestic assault, where he helped prevent an intoxicated woman from drowning in a lake.

“She was on the dock and jumped in the water to get away from us,” he said. “I didn’t want the full-time guy to get wet, so I jumped in and got her back onto the dock.”

This year’s accepted applicants will train at a new site, Gersten said.

The new class will complete training at the Linn County Reserve Academy — a change from previous years when instructors were called to Iowa City.

Linn County already has the instructors, facilities, and gym, so the location is more efficient, Gersten said.

Sieverding and Gersten work day jobs as engineers, and both said they’re not planning on becoming full-time law enforcement officers.

But that doesn’t mean Gersten is thinking of quitting his part-time gig as a reserve.

“I’m in it for the long term,” he said. “I’ve been in for six and a half years and have no intention of giving it up.”

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