Mahaska County Sheriff Russ Van Renterghem received approval to add members to the Sheriff Reserves termed “occasional” employees through certification by the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors on Monday.
The Sheriff’s Reserves, commonly known as the Sheriff’s Posse, came into existence in the 1960s, chartered for approximately 42 members. Currently, the Sheriff’s Reserves is down to 13 members and of those 13, four are actually certified reserve deputies.
Sheriff Van Renterghem said, “I would like to use them to cover vacations, sick time, and that type of activity.”
Van Renterghem said, the reserves put in a lot of hours at no cost to the county by covering special events and other needs. “They are big support staff for us. They’re a group of gentlemen we can call on to assist us.“
If the reserve deputies are being used to cover patrol hours, Van Renterghem said he would like to pay them $10 per hour when on patrol. “That’s pretty cheap compared to the surrounding counties. The two I’m thinking of is Monroe and Keokuk county, they use theirs quite a bit,” said Van Renterghem.
The Reserve Sheriff’s once certified have the same enforcement powers as a full-time deputy does except for OWI laws. If they were to come across a drunk driver while on shift, the reserve deputy would have to call on a full-time deputy or get assistance from Iowa State Patrol
The Reserve Sheriff does not get paid for special events, Van Renterghem noted the death investigation that recently occurred in Beacon where the sheriff’s department secured the scene for three days, yet were not paid.
One deputy is currently going through certification, another five are signed up to go through the ‘hiring’ process to become a reserve member, said Van Renterghem.
“If it was a situation where I didn’t know them, I didn’t trust them, I wouldn’t be sitting here asking you to do this. Because I’m not going to put anyone out there I don’t trust,” said Van Renterghem.
The four individuals were approved by the board to be certified and made as an addition to the Sheriff’s Reserves. Next spring, Van Renterghem would put on another four or five certified deputies as part-time or “occasional” employees. In Iowa, certified peace officers aren’t allowed to be paid into IPERS and are not expected to impact the Mahaska County Sheriff budget, according to Van Renterghem.
This expanded patrol is expected to begin after the first of January, once harvest is finished and the extensive training is completed, said Van Renterghem.