Auxiliary police, also called reserves or special police, are civilian volunteers who are trained like police and perform the work of police, but don't get paid. The rewards for these public servants are less tangible and less spendable but no less real than those of their full-time, paid counterparts.
How It Works
Most county and local law enforcement agencies have an auxiliary force composed of trained volunteers. To join this team, applicants must undergo all of the background checking, and much of the training, of full-time police officers. They work regular, part-time shifts and have the same rights and responsibilities of regular police.
Although auxiliary police aren't paid cash, it still costs money to train and equip them, and to administer the program. This money comes from the budget for the police force who employs them -- typically a combination of local, state and federal funds.
Training and Opportunity
Some of the most appealing "payment" for working as an auxiliary police officer is the training and opportunity the program provides. Auxiliary police go through training comparable to that of full officers, training that looks good on a resume for a number of professions. It's also customary to grant auxiliary officers preferential treatment when hiring for open full-time positions, making this work a strategic choice for people who want a career in law enforcement.
Some auxiliary police don't work just for the training and opportunity for full-time work. Working as a volunteer police officer has its hardships, but it also includes helping people, solving problems and contributing to your community. Coupled with the opportunity of a level of excitement and status, these "fringe benefits" of working with the police are considered by some to be reward enough.
Some police forces maintain groups of volunteer auxiliaries beyond reserve officers. These can include search and rescue teams, disaster response volunteers and community action leaders. This sort of auxiliary often undergoes less background checking and training than full reservists and rarely gets any kind of salary.