At a time when the Turlock Police Department is experiencing the constraints of the city’s restrictive budget, Police Chief Nino Amirfar is turning to a resource that up until late had been hard to fill, but is proving to be quite valuable.
The resource is the department’s Reserve Officer Unit, which currently is utilizing the skills of two former employees.
The Reserve Officer unit was established to supplement and assist the sworn personnel at the department by either filling staffing levels when needed or in specialty assignments. The candidates must meet and pass all the same standards as the sworn personnel and take the same oath to serve and protect.
“It provides an opportunity for those wishing to give back to their community to do so with no cost to the City of Turlock,” Amirfar said.
The difference is that reserve officers don’t get paid or if they do, it’s far less than what a sworn officer makes.
“Until recently we have not been able to get anyone interested in this as there is no pay associated with it and the level of training necessary,” Amirfar said.
The two reserve officers — Gary Hampton and Mayra Lewis — are both working special assignments for the department.
Hampton was the former Turlock police chief and city manager. His tenure as city manager came to an end six weeks before his planned departure and was followed by a claim that he was subjected to a hostile work environment by then Mayor Gary Soiseth, Council member Matthew Jacob and City Attorney Phaedra Norton.
His claim stated he was solicited by “an appointed official of the City to engage in unethical activities intended to undermine the 2017 City Manager recruitment/selection process.” In the claim he went on to say that after refusing he “became the subject of continuous criticism and character attacks by the appointed official and supporters of the official, amounting to a hostile work environment.”
The claim was settled and the City of Turlock paid Hampton for lost salary and benefits.
“I have been able to secure Gary into the program because of his desire to give back to the Turlock community he loves,” Amirfar said. “He has had all the training so that is a great help. Remember he has over 30 years in law enforcement and is a retired police officer. Hampton’s assignment with the department is to help with grant research and writing.
“He currently is working on research to locate grant funding for additional police officers, obtaining an Armored Rescue Vehicle, which after the murder of a Sacramento Police Department officer this is a very critical piece of equipment we need to have,” Amirfar said. “I am also working with him to facilitate a strategic plan workshop for the police department. These are all programs that would cost us thousands of dollars, which he is doing for free.”
Lewis retired from full time duty as a police officer earlier this year and returned Tuesday to take her oath and join the reserves unit. Lewis will be assigned to the Chief’s office, Professional Standards and will assist with public information officer duties and permitting process.
“Mayra has 14 years of experience in law enforcement and four years assigned to Professional Standards,” Amirfar said. “Mayra is a huge help by volunteering. Her training and expertise in this area from her prior assignment is again of great help and will not necessitate any training funds. Her reserve status is necessary as she will be representing the police department in specific functions which will provide a level of acknowledgement when representing Turlock Police Department.
“Mayra and Gary will not work in a patrol enforcement capacity, per their request,” Amirfar said. “While they do want to give back to the community, that level of commitment exceeds their desires and availability. By utilizing these two individuals as reserves I am gaining the needed resources and services at zero cost to the city.”