By Marie Waldrop

TEN YEARS AGO, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott established the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) Reserve Deputy Program to add needed personnel resources to patrol units. Today, the men and women who serve the citizens of Richland County in this Reserve capacity have full-time jobs in other career areas, but they choose to volunteer in their spare time to serve next to full-time deputies to protect the citizens of their communities.

“When you begin the process of becoming a reserve deputy, it is the mystique of being a lawman that motivates you,” says RCSD Reserve Deputy J.D. Rowland. “But this stage passes quickly. After riding and working with full-time deputies and being exposed to what they endure day in and day out, you see that these deputies really need and want our backup and assistance. You make lifelong friendships and they become family. That is, in essence, why we do what we do. We do it for our blood kin and we do it for our blue kin, we do it for our family.”

To become Reserve deputies, candidates must complete over 150 hours of law enforcement training. They must pass the state’s Criminal Justice Academy exam. And they must meet all of the same physical and training requirements as full-time deputies.

Once sworn-in, Reserve deputies serve a minimum of 240 hours per year with many serving in excess of 350 hours per year.

In 2020 alone, RCSD Reserve deputies worked a total of 16,071 hours for the department, saving taxpayers hundreds-of-thousands of dollars. Currently 58 Reserve deputies work primarily at night and on weekends supporting RCSD when extra manpower is most needed. Reserve deputies provide the resources to enable many patrol units to operate as a double unit providing additional backup for the full-time officer.

“I believe public service is my calling,” says Reserve Deputy Daphane Bowman, who recently retired from RCSD and transferred to the Reserve Deputy Division. “It was never about the money.”

Most of our Reserve deputies are motivated by the desire to give back to the communities in which they live and to keep those communities safe.

“I volunteer to fulfill my obligation to our great country,” says Reserve Deputy Jeremy Jamison. “I’ve always been told to leave things better than how you found them. Being a peace officer awards me that opportunity.”

As each day dawns and night falls, law enforcement officers throughout central South Carolina put on RCSD uniforms and respond to calls from Richland County citizens in need. Many of those in RCSD uniforms are armed, expertly trained, and fully capable Reserve deputies: Quiet heroes of the Richland County Reserve Deputy Program who give of their time and talents to ride side-by-side with full-time RCSD deputies in order to provide that extra layer of security and to serve the citizens of Richland County in a most unique way.

– Marie Waldrop is the coordinator for Reserve Program/Instructor – Training Division, Richland County Sheriff’s Department.