Members of the Ceres City Council took action last week to give reserve police officer full-time peace officers status and get in sync with state regulations.
During a recent Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) audit it was discovered that the Ceres Municipal Code does not have a section that authorizes the police chief to recruit and designate Reserve Officers as required by Penal Code Section 830.6(a)(2). There are three levels of reserve officers recognized by POST. Ceres only employs Level I reserve officers, which are required to meet the same standards as a full-time police officer. Level 2 and 3 officers require supervision.
Without changing the Ceres Municipal Code the city would be out of compliance with state regulations and the chief would not be able to recruit and designate Level One Reserve Officers.
"We did not have a municipal code to back up our reserve officers," said Ceres Police Chief Brent Smith. "Reserve Level I needs to have 24-hour police officer status. So if we don't allow this to happen, when they get off work they're no longer a police officer. They can't carry a weapon off-duty, so what I would have to do as police chief is to issue a CCW permit, which might not be the right thing to do. I think we need to cover our reserve officers and give them the peace officer status that they need to have because it is protecting them. They risk themselves to work here in daytime so basically this will give them that status."
Ceres only has one reserve officer in Jerry Kessler, who retired as a California Highway Patrol officer in 2013 but decided to work for the Ceres Police in April. He is specializing in commercial enforcement and traffic collisions.
Ceres resident Leonard Shepherd spoke and asked the council to "pass it."
"Everybody knows they're a cop but you're not a cop once you leave the patrol car, I guess, so pass that ordinance and cover them 24/7," said Shepherd.
The council voted 4-0 to approve the code change. Vice Mayor Mike Kline was absent from the meeting.
In other action, the council approved the purchase of additional storage for the Police Property and Evidence Room for $26,958. The council also declared the police headquarters bathroom remodeling as complete. The $238,642 project involved the remodeling of existing men's and women's restrooms and showers, including new plumbing fixtures, toilet and shower compartments, floor and wall tiles, wall/ceiling painting on the first floor and lower level of the Ceres Police Department.