Town council approves reserve officer addition

CROTHERSVILLE

Until last week, Crothersville Police Department consisted of three full-time officers.

But following the town council’s unanimous approval, Matt Browning was sworn in as a reserve officer.

That might be the final time the town council has the power to hire or fire reserve officers. An ordinance that has language from 1995 and 2005 is being updated by town attorney Jeff Lorenzo following discussion by the town council during its monthly meeting.

After verbally making changes to the police reserve ordinance, including shifting the hiring and firing power to Chief Richard Hanlin, council members Derrick Minton and Butch Robinson voted to waive the formal reading and approve the first reading. Council President Ardell Mitchell cast the nay vote for both readings.

“I feel like, in a small town without a safety board, per se, the way the reserves represent the town and the exposure, I think the council ought to have a say in those hires,” Mitchell said. “But that’s just me.”

Lorenzo now will make the changes suggested by the council and forward the updated ordinance to Clerk-Treasurer Terry Richey, who will post it at the town hall for the public to view before the next council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 7.

Hanlin and the council members are glad to have Browning on board. The town has had reserve officers in the past but none in recent months.

“He lives here in town, and I think he’ll be good for the department and help the town out,” Hanlin said.

Minton and Browning are firefighters with the Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department.

“Being on the fire department with Matt for quite some time now, I would have no problem with him being in this position. From what I’ve seen as a firefighter, he’s dedicated and does what he needs to do,” Minton said.

“Thank you for volunteering and helping the town,” Mitchell said to Browning. “It’s very much appreciated.”

After reviewing the police department’s rules and regulations and a town ordinance regarding reserve officers, the three council members found a couple of different versions and a lot of outdated information.

Mitchell said one of the first issues he found in the ordinance is that the town is authorized to appoint no more than four reserve officers. He suggested that be changed to unlimited, and Minton and Robinson agreed.

“I feel the same way. The more, the merrier,” Minton said.

“I don’t see anything wrong with more than four if you can find them,” Robinson added.

Despite Mitchell’s objection, the wording of the ordinance will be changed to give the power to hire and fire reserve officers to the police chief.

A part of the ordinance that will remain the same is that reserve officers are not members of the regular police force. That keeps a full-time officer from deciding to do reserve time and come back later for lost wages. Reserve officers volunteer their time and are not paid.

Lorenzo suggested striking the rules and regulations language from the ordinance and keeping it separate.

“The policies and procedures aren’t in anybody’s ordinance in any police department that I’m aware of,” Lorenzo said. “Those are determined by either your safety board or by the chief.”

Mitchell said that, while Lorenzo updates wording of the ordinance, Hanlin could begin making changes to the standard operating procedures and rules.

At a glance

If you are interested in applying to be reserve officer with the Crothersville Police Department, call 812-793-0049 or stop by the office at 404 Moore St.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.