|Auxiliary police officers. [Fairfax County photo]|
APOs don’t carry a gun, bust down doors, or chase criminals with sirens blaring and lights flashing – and they don’t get paid. But they do get to wear a uniform, drive a police cruiser, and help the police in such areas as crowd control, traffic stops, and crime scene security.
APO veteran William Ridgeway gave a presentation on the APO program at the Nov. 4 meeting of the Mason Police District’s Citizen Advisory Committee.
There are 86 APOs across the county, including seven based at the Mason police station, said Ridgeway, who’s in charge of recruiting for the program. The average age is 56, although there are current APOs ranging from 30 to 84. Eleven are female.
APOs can write summonses, parking tickets and make custodial arrests when a regular paid officer is present. They back up officers on service calls, such as domestic violence; traffic control; and DWI checks. They also help out with administrative work, and they keep things running smoothly at community events, such as President Obama’s visit to Thomas Jefferson High School and the Annandale Parade.
“Auxiliary officers free up the police so they can do things we can’t do,” Ridgeway said.
Applicants must be at least 21, be in good health, pass a background check and a polygraph, have a good driving record, have no conflict of interest or financial problems, and have a good character and be a good citizen.
Those accepted have to commit to a rigorous six-month training course at the Fairfax County Police Department’s Criminal Justice Academy in Chantilly. Classes are twice a week, 6-10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus a couple of Saturday sessions on the shooting range and driving course. The next term starts in March 2015.
The training covers such topics as search and seizure law, evidence collection, first aid, parking enforcement, recognizing elder abuse, the chain of custody, and ethics. One lesson includes a pepper spray experience; a taser experience is optional.
Those who complete the course must complete 200 hours of field work within a year before they can be certified as an APO. Once certified, they are expected to contribute 24 hours of voluntary service a month.
FCPD provides a uniform, uniform cleaning allowance, custom-fitted ballistic vest, gas mask, and on-duty medical insurance to APOs.
To learn more about the APO program, call 703-280 or send an email to AuxiliaryPolice@FairfaxCounty.gov.