The Coon Rapids Police Reserve has been serving the community for a half-century.
And to celebrate the anniversary the Coon Rapids City Council at its Nov. 20 meeting proclaimed Coon Rapids Police Reserve Day, the very day that the Police Reserve was formed 50 years ago – Nov. 20, 1962.
In those 50 years the role of the Police Reserve has not changed that much – park patrol, traffic duty and crowd control at community events.
But in those early days, the Police Reserve was known as the police auxiliary and had more of a civil defense function, according to Coon Rapids Police Capt. Cary Parks, who supervises the reserve unit.
Throughout its 50 years, the Police Reserve members have donated many hours of volunteer time to the police department and the city.
According to the proclamation read by Mayor Tim Howe and presented to Police Reserve members Nov. 20, the reserves have made possible a high level of law enforcement service at school events, carnivals, graduations, parades, Snowflake Days and other community events, volunteering thousands of hours each year often on the coldest days of winter and the hottest days of summer.
“The Police Reserve is a tremendous organization and we congratulate it on its 50 years of service to the city,” Howe said.
“They make the community safer.”
The Police Reserve unit puts in up to 5,000 hours a year to accomplish the public safety mission of the police department, according to Parks.
Right now the Police Reserve has 18 members, which is about a typical number over the 50 years that the reserves have in operation, Parks said.
There were more members when the Senior PGA Champions Tour golf event was being played at the city’s Bunker Hills Golf Course, he said.
Besides their volunteer work patrolling city parks and working traffic details and crowd control at community events, as well as high school sports games, the Police Reserve also provides security for Anoka-Ramsey Community College students at night, escorting them to and from the parking lot after regular hours, according to Parks.
The Police Reserve officers get paid for that work since the city has a contract with the state of Minnesota to provide security at the community college, Parks said.
Overall, the unit members volunteer about 2,500 hours and gets paid for 2,500 hours a year, he said.
But the volunteer work has also involved assisting police and other first responders at disaster situations – for example, a train derailment in Coon Rapids in 2008, Parks said.
And reserve members also take part in the countywide disaster drills that prepare police, fire and emergency personnel to deal with the real thing, Parks said.
“The Police Reserve members are great community volunteers,” he said.
“They are a very visible presence in the community.”
Of the current roster, the longest serving Police Reserve officer is Eric Prindle, who has more than 16 years of service, while Capt. Terry Houim has been a Police Reserve officer for 13 years, Parks said.
But the person who put in more time than anyone else in the history of the Police Reserve unit is John Badzinski, who served from 1971 to 2007 – 36 years, according to Parks.
“The Police Reserves provide services and a police presence that the police department could not normally pay for,” Parks said.
But they not only volunteer their time as members of the Police Reserve unit, but also for other activities in the community, Parks said.
Moreover, members of the Police Reserve have regular jobs and represent a range of age and career groups, he said.
According to the city of Coon Rapids website, the minimum requirements for joining the Police Reserves are:
• Must be at least 18 years of age and a U.S. citizen.
• Possess a valid Minnesota driver’s license with a good driving record.
• Possess a high school diploma or equivalency certificate.
• Be in good physical condition; no disabilities restricting bodily functions.
• Submit to a complete criminal history and background check.
• Pass an oral examination by a review board.
• Complete police reserve academy and training.
• Complete a probationary period.
• Attend meetings and training sessions throughout the year.
The reserve academy training that takes place every year is a collaboration of law enforcement agencies in Anoka County that have Police Reserve units, Parks said.
Training includes traffic control, radio work and CPR/first aid, he said.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]