Sworn Volunteers in American Policing, 1999 to 2013

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Police Quarterly

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This study describes changes in the use of sworn volunteers among the national's local law enforcement agencies and identifies those state-level certification, community, and agency characteristics associated with agencies using such volunteers in 2013. Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics data from 1999 through 2013 were analyzed to document trends in both the number of sworn volunteers and the prevalence of agencies using sworn volunteers. While there has been a modest decline in the use of sworn volunteers since 1999, in 2013, about 36% of all local law enforcement agencies used sworn volunteers; furthermore, these volunteers comprised 7% of all local sworn personnel having arrest authority nationwide in 2013. A survey of peace officer standards and training agencies found that approximately two thirds of states required state-level certification of sworn volunteers. Multivariate analyses of state-level certification standards, census data, and agency characteristics found that agencies were more likely to use sworn volunteers if they (a) are a sheriff's office, (b) serve jurisdictions with larger populations, (c) have greater levels of social disadvantage, (d) do not require recruits to have more than a high school education, or (e) are located within states offering graduated levels of sworn volunteer certifications. Agencies were less likely to use volunteer officers if they (a) hire part-time sworn officers, (b) have a greater entry-level salary, or (c) are accredited.


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