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Cape to hear plan for ‘police reserve’

By Staff | Oct 22, 2011

City council members will hear during their workshop on Monday the benefits of a having a reserve police unit in Cape Coral.

The presentation is scheduled to be made by Evan Finn, who, in a Oct. 18 email to council, wrote that reserve officers “protect the most vulnerable members of our society”.

Finn did not return calls for comment on Friday nor did he outline his proposal in his email.

Finn did say that serving as a volunteer officer is “among the most important callings” for anyone and wrote there are “tangible benefits for aspiring police officers, community activists and the departments” when becoming a volunteer.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said Finn approached him with the idea and he suggested Finn make the presentation to council as a whole.

He has not reviewed Finn’s proposal, Chulakes-Leetz said, and he is reserving any judgement until he hears the proposal in full.

“I didn’t get any further than suggesting he should give it to the whole council. It sounded like something all of us should hear,” he said.

Local Fraternal Order of Police President Kurt Grau responded in an email to The Breeze that the FOP does not support the idea of volunteers protecting other people’s lives.

“Residents deserve the best police protection possible and this is not the answer … If someone is breaking into your house in the middle of the night do you want a volunteer or a real cop coming to save your family? If city leaders now realize the police department is understaffed then hire real police officers not fake substitutes,” Grau wrote.

Councilman Kevin McGrail said the city would likely be facing the possibility of some serious litigation if it chose to put armed volunteers on the street.

“This is one of the more outlandish proposals I can think of,” McGrail said. “You’re putting a bunch of new recruits without training on the streets with guns … I see our Risk Manager having a heart attack.”

Councilmember Pete Brandt said he’d need to see more information before formulating an opinion, but wondered if former sworn police officers, now in retirement, could serve that function.

Brandt would also like to get a feel for how the city’s real police officers receive the idea.

“I’d have to be sure our command staff and department is comfortable with it. If not, I’d be reluctant to go forward with it,” Brandt said.

A city with a smaller population and less infrastructure is ideal for a volunteer police force, according to Councilmember Marty McClain, where those volunteers serve in traffic control, special events or weather emergencies.

But on a day-to-day basis patrolling the streets of Cape Coral, McClain doesn’t think it’s feasible.

“In a city this size, I don’t think it makes sense,” he said.