There is a group of men and women in Newton who serve in the role of police officers without receiving any compensation.

 

"A reserve officer is someone who volunteers their time to come out and do the functions of a full-time officer," said Sgt. Josh Millspaugh of the Newton Police Department. "A reserve has the same authority as a full-time officer while on duty."

 

Reserve officers responded to the Excel shooting and were utilized in the standoff that occurred on Jan. 22, setting up a perimeter and relieving full-time officers as needed.

 

Community events such as Taste of Newton, Parade of Lights and the Harvey County Fair are often patrolled by reserve officers and they provide security at Newton High School games and events.

 

"They'll be inside the gym there, walking around and just basically showing a presence to help keep things calm and to prevent any fights or anything like that from happening," Millspaugh said. "They walk around Fischer Field and the parking lots, making sure there's nobody breaking into vehicles."

 

Reserve officers can also be called upon to cover a duty shift, a strategy that is beneficial to taxpayers.

 

"We'll call them when we're short handed to have them come work a beat, take calls, and that saves the city money in the long term, because they're not paying another guy overtime to come in," Millspaugh said.

 

Reserve Lt. Mike Carpenter has worked a full-time job in Wichita and volunteered with the Newton Police Department for nearly eight years.

 

"It's just a desire to help the community. There's no feeling like it to go help your fellow man," Carpenter said. "I love being able to contribute."

 

Being a reserve officer gives Carpenter the chance to keep lives and property safe, lower the crime rate and share camaraderie with fellow officers.

 

"The dangers that our officers face every day, on our home turf, is incredible," Carpenter said.

 

Carpenter was inspired to work with the police department as a teenager, after interacting with an officer.

 

"Chad Gay is probably the reason I am a cop," Carpenter said. "He dealt with my family on a call. I couldn't believe how kind he was in the situation and how level-headed he was."

 

Carpenter was especially impressed when Gay followed up a few days later, offering to toss around a football while in full uniform.

 

"I thought if that's what cops were like, count me in," Carpenter said.

 

Sgt. Millspaugh started his career in law enforcement as a reserve officer in 2002, which gave him a good look at what the position entailed before applying to work as an officer full-time.

 

"There's really no difference between us full-timers and reserves besides the fact that we get more training and work a lot more hours," Millspaugh said. "They really contribute a lot to the department and the community."

 

There are currently 7 reserve officers working with the Newton Police Department.

 

"We definitely need some more guys who want to serve their community in that capacity," Carpenter said.

 

Reserve officers are required to volunteer for 10 hours per month, but many put in much more time.

 

"Some of our guys are putting in between 150 and 280 hours per year," Carpenter said. "It's a big commitment."

 

To become a reserve officer, you must be 21 years old and must not have committed or been convicted of a felony, drug or alcohol offense, domestic violence offense or weapons-related charge.

 

"You have to go through the same process as a full-time officer," Millspaugh said.

 

Applicants are given an agility test, a written test and an oral board interview.

 

"If you move on from that process, you have to take a polygraph, and then, after the polygraph, we'll do a full background investigation," Millspaugh said.

 

A psychological evaluation is also part of the process, which is intentionally set up to be strenuous.

 

"With the reserves, it's just as important to have quality people as it is with full-time officers," Millspaugh said. "We're all real tight, here, the full-timers and the reserves. We appreciate the work they do, because they help us out tremendously."

 

With their experience and training, reserve officers are prime candidates when full-time officer positions open up.

 

"They know the guys here, they've got some training, they know what it's about," Millspaugh said.

 

Newton High School pays the Newton Police Department to have a police presence as needed, and that money goes into a fund for Reserve Officer equipment. While the patrol budget pays for uniforms and duty gear, other items such as patrol bikes, bike helmets, traffic wands and LED beacons for traffic work are needed.

 

"That's why we do fundraisers to help raise money for their equipment," Millspaugh noted. "The reserves do not have their own budget through (Newton Police Department), the city does not fund them."

 

There will be a soup supper to raise funds for the Newton Police Department Reserve Officer Force from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 17 at Zion Lutheran Church, 225 S. Poplar in Newton.

 

For a donation, fifteen soups including chicken and noodle, vegetable beef, borscht, seafood stew, chili and more will be available, along with drinks and dessert.

 

"It's like a buffet," said organizer Peggy Gerber. "You can come get as much as you want or as little as you want."

 

Many of the reserve officers, along with the K-9 unit, will be present at the soup supper.

 

"People don't realize that they are volunteers," Gerber said. "They're they ones that are going to leave their home and their families to come protect me."