I am happy to announce the organization of the Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary, a volunteer emergency response organization working under the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office. (For those of you who wonder where I disappeared to, this is it--- I have had my head buried in this new organization for months...) The LCSA is intended to provide a pool of pre-trained, pre-qualified volunteers for call up by the Sheriff during non-routine operations (e.g. a local disaster or a disaster in a neighboring county) to supplement the Sheriff's office, form teams and work crews for emergency response (e.g. search and rescue, traffic control, communications, citizen patrol, escort/guide other responders, etc) and provide leadership for organizing unaffiliated volunteers. We work closely with the local CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team), and participate ourselves in VIPS (Volunteers In Police Service), and VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters). We are charged with working closely with Neighborhood Watches and other local groups.
How is this different from the Reserve Deputy Pool most counties have? Reserve deputies are licensed peace officers (full deputies) who do not work full time and are activated as-needed. They go through the standard 700-hour peace officer training and are usually either retired part-time law enforcement or people trying to get started in a law enforcement career. The Auxiliary is for people who are usually not law enforcement and don't necessarily want to be: we do not serve warrants, arrest people, or fingerprint crime scenes. Instead, our focus and training is on emergency response and taking care of tasks which will free up deputies to focus on their core mission. Our training covers the "Triad" of emergency response: first aid, communications, and defense. We require training in First Aid/CPR, the 21-hour CERT training, radio use, a CCW and defense training, and in the legal aspects of the Sheriff's Office, property rights, and emergencies (our Constitution, Law, and the Auxiliary Course), ride along with deputies for cross-training, and encourage additional skills in a number of areas. We have officers commissioned by the Sheriff, enlisted, and non-commissioned officers. We help our volunteers get the training they need (in many cases for free other than the time investment) and offer emergency response courses to the community at large.
As an emergency response organization, like CERT and ARES, we turn out in the first 72-hours of a disaster before longer-term disaster relief efforts (e.g. Red Cross and Salvation Army) are mobilized. In a typical disaster situation, we would help organize the hand-off to the relief organizations and then some of us might "switch hats" to participate in relief efforts as, e.g. Red Cross volunteers.
Our focus is on a commitment to personal service in the community, leadership-by-example, personal excellence, and work as close-knit teams on disasters (no one ever goes into a disaster area alone). We encourage local emergency preparation so that there will be less people needing help when a disaster strikes. As a side-effect of our efforts, we create a deeper connection between the community and their local peace officers ("Locals-In-The-Loop Law Enforcement") which allows both sides to understand each other and what is going on in their neighborhoods. A lot of the ideas for the Auxiliary grew out of the County Restoration Handbook effort, the Statesmen For Our Constitutional Republic's "SCR-CERT" pilot program, and the Well-Fed Neighbor Philosophy.
Our first officers were commissioned and sworn in at the end of February this year. The previous Auxiliary had been disbanded over 16 years ago, so we had to start mostly from scratch. Over the last few months, we have built a core staff, written training requirements, obtained equipment, and had our first field exercise. We are committed to documenting as much as we can so that other counties can more easily develop similar programs. We are now working on actively expanding our enlisted volunteers and developing relationships with other response organizations and the private sector.
We have business meetings on the second Tuesday of every month at the Mount Vernon library (6:30p) which are open to the public. If you are interested in finding out more, volunteering, donating (goods, services, etc), or getting trained, check out our web site or show up at a meeting.
Mj Eric Vought, Commander 1 Company
Lawrence County Sheriff's Auxiliary