Sheriff’s Reserves provide unlimited contributions to the county
CHARLES TOWN — Throughout Jefferson County, one can often see Sheriff Reserve vehicles traveling along the roadways. These dedicated men and women volunteer their time to assist the Sheriff’s Department in a variety of ways, all in an effort to support and give back to their community.
According to Chief Deputy Ronald Fletcher, the Reserve unit has been in place in the county at least since the 1990s.
“These Reserves do everything from funeral details to traffic control,” Fletcher said. “They provide manpower at special events such as the Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival and the fireworks event,” he continued. In addition, Fletcher added that the reservists provide a day-to-day measure of patrolling the community.
Cpl. Vincent Tiong serves as the liaison between the Reserves and the Sheriff’s Department.
“The Reserves are definitely the eyes and ears of the Sheriff’s Office,” Tiong said. “They not only conduct patrols of different neighborhoods and businesses around the county; they have a good working relationship with other officers as well as the public,” he added.
“The Jefferson Reserve deputies are the best trained and most effective in the state,” said Sheriff Pete Dougherty. “Last year they provided approximately 10,000 hours helping at special events, providing funeral escorts and helping keep law enforcement and the public safe, especially at traffic stops and accidents,” he went on.
Fletcher explained that Jefferson County established a Sheriff Reserve Academy, the only one of its kind in the state, and all Reservists attend the academy as part of their training. There is typically a class each year, with individuals attending from Jefferson and Berkeley counties, and often from other areas of the state as well.
The Academy, in conjunction with Blue Ridge Technical and Community College, provides the Reservists with the training and with college credit for said training. There is no cost for the Academy as the instructors are local officers who also volunteer their time. The students learn everything from hands on tactical training to OC (pepper spray), tasers and firearm familiarization. The Reservists do not, however, carry firearms in their day-to-day duties.
Tiong said that he was asked to be the liaison to the Reserves when Sgt. Ben Williams , who had been in the role and who was responsible for the start-up of the Reserve Academy, took a position as the Resource Officer at Jefferson High School.
“I got involved with the Reserves in 2004 when I started at the Sheriff’s Office, Tiong said. “In the most recent years, Sgt. Williams selected me to be one of the many trainers for the Academy. “Currently, I train and certify the reserves on OC (pepper spray), Taser, handcuffing and firearms familiarization,” Tiong said.
“When Sgt. Williams took the job at the high school, he reached out to me and said that he felt I would be the best candidate to oversee the Reserves. He felt that since I volunteer with Citizens Fire Company, a volunteer organization, I could bring that experience with me.”
Dougherty took Williams’ recommendation and Tiong was placed in the role overseeing the Reserves in February 2019.
The Reserves are a self-contained part of the law enforcement system with a Board of Directors comprised voted on by the membership. Their ranking system is the same as that used by the Sheriff’s Department.
“The Lieutenant Reserve is the main person who sees the day-to-day operations of the organization,” Tiong said. “Anytime there are questions or problems, he will answer to me directly, Tiong explained. ?The Reserves work for donations when they assist at various functions and events. Those donations are what make up their entire budget that is used to purchase needed items, including the uniforms and vehicles. They also apply for various grants to help with those expenses.
“These Reservists are a vital part of our law enforcement organization,” Fletcher stressed. “I cannot begin to say how much they are appreciated by all of us at the Sheriff’s Office.”
“Believe it or not, the Reserves are not that well known to the public,” Tiong said. “I have been working at getting the word out as to who they are and what they do,” he added.
“On a weekly basis the Reserves could provide three to four funeral escorts from the funeral home to either the state line or the cemetery,” Tiong said.
Typically, the public can email the reserves at email@example.com to request their participation in events or to serve as funeral escorts. Tiong explained that once the email is received a notice is sent to see which Reservists are available.
“Without the reserves, I feel like the deputies working the road would be stretched thin, Tiong said. “They help us when it comes to transporting and processing prisoners. They help cut down the time a deputy would spend with the individual during the intake and processing stage, and so many more tasks,” he continued.
“It is a goal of mine to see an increase in the number of our Reservists in the county,” Tiong said.