The Reserve Unit was formed in 1977, in response to a new Michigan law which required that all persons must have training before they could perform Law Enforcement duties for the Sheriff's Office. The first Reserve School was held at Lake Michigan College. Thirty-six Reserve Graduates served under Sheriff Nick Jewell.
The first duties performed by the unit were to provide extra security for the Blossom Parade and for the Berrien County Youth Fair. In addition to these two important county events, they now monitor over 20 different summer events and provide security for the Silver Beach County Park. They also assist the Crime Prevention Unit with community education programs. They may be called upon to help search for lost children or missing persons. In addition, the Unit works side-by-side with full-time Deputies on Road Patrol, in the Jail, and in the 911 Central Dispatch.
Reserve responsibilities have been expanded to provide crime scene security, property checks, and VIP security details in conjunction with regular Deputies. In 2004, the unit assisted with security during visits by President George W Bush and again when Vice President Cheney toured the area. The Reserve Unit also works with the Emergency Management Unit and with the Emergency Operations Center providing security during drills and exercises involving two nearby nuclear plants. This activity not only provides valuable assistance during exercises but it also serves as training should an emergency situation arise.
Berrien County Sheriff's Reserve Deputies are required to complete a 72-hour training academy spread over 12 weeks to prepare the individual to work with other law enforcement agencies. Upon completion of the training period, the Reserve Deputy is required to serve a minimum of 8 hours per month of active duty, and three hours of training per month. In 2004, the Reserve Division worked over 9,000 man-hours serving the citizens of Berrien County.
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