Becoming a Reserve Officer
Like other community volunteer initiatives, police departments appreciate having volunteers to supplement their service to communities.
The Metropolitan Police Department receives important support from volunteers in functional units, including: Reserve Police Officers, the Volunteer Corps, the Collegiate Internship Program and the Police Expeditioner Program. These units provide rewarding opportunities for hundreds of volunteers in positions ranging from law enforcement support to chaplain services to community outreach.
Another route to serving as an officer in the nation’s capital is through the MPD Reserve Corps. Like with military reserve forces, the MPD Reserve Corps allows officers to keep their careers while also fulfilling their calling to serve.
The Reserve Corps is made up of over 100 women and men who make a significant contribution to DC policing while maintaining other careers or retirement. Members of the Reserve Corps are dedicated, community-oriented volunteers who receive full law enforcement training and serve on patrol functions.
Reserve police officers contribute in almost every capacity within the Metropolitan Police Department. Everyday, reserve police officers are working in the nation’s capital helping to make Washington, DC, a safer place to live, work and visit. Like career officers, reserve officers have a wide variety of assignments from routine patrol to harbor and air support based on their interests, skills and training.
Each year, all members of the Police Reserve Corps must undergo additional training to stay current in their certifications and knowledge. The Reserve Corps Division conducts Professional Development Training (PDT) to help ensure that all reserve members are current in their training and skills. In addition to required training and recertification criteria, each member of the Reserve Corps can participate in many optional and ongoing trainings.
Candidates must meet the following qualifications and be able to provide the following documentation:
- Be a US citizen, by birth or naturalization, at the time of application.
- Must be 21 years old when appointed to officer.
- Possess a valid driver’s license at the time of application.
- Successful completion of a comprehensive background investigation.
- Successful completion of a polygraph exam.
- Successful completion of a medical and psychological evaluation.
- Possess at least 20/100 vision, correctable to 20/30 in both eyes.
- Contacts are permitted if they have been worn for six (6) months prior to examination, or if vision correction surgery (i.e., Lasik) has occurred at least six (6) weeks prior to examination.
- Must have one of the following:
- Successfully completed at least 60 semester hours of college credit with coursework in any subject from an accredited college or university; OR
- Served in the US military, including the Organized Reserves or National Guard, for at least two years on active duty and, if separated, have received an honorable discharge; OR
- Served at least three years in a full-duty status with a full-service police department in a US state or municipality and have resigned or retired in good standing.
Candidates who do not meet one of the criteria above may consider the MPD Cadet Corps (for those who are 24 or under) or the UDC / MPD Police Officer Training Cohort (POTC), which assists prospective applicants in obtaining their education to become a DC police officer.
Here’s how the selection process works:
1. Complete an interest card.
2. Attend an MPD Prospect Day where you will participate in several screening events [e.g., physical ability test, document screening, fingerprinting].
3. Candidates who meet all the qualifications of the screening events, will then complete their National Testing Network Frontline National Written Exam at 1 pm. Candidates who have taken the exam within the past year are exempt. Candidates who take the exam before attending an MPD Prospect Day are reminded to designate MPD as their intended department.
4. Undergo a comprehensive background investigation, to be completed over a 4-to-6-month time period.
5. Take a polygraph exam.
6. Submit to a medical and psychological evaluation.
7. MPD review and decision.
Hiring preferences are given to District of Columbia residents and US military veterans.
Selected candidates for appointment as an MPD police officer must agree to serve at least two years as a sworn member upon successful completion of the initial training program or may be required to reimburse the District for recruit training.
Duties & Responsibilities:
MPD’s reserve officers are dedicated, community-oriented individuals who serve alongside career officers in our mission to serve and protect the residents and visitors of Washington, DC. They perform all the duties and responsibilities of a sworn officer, only in the capacity of a volunteer. They are required to volunteer at least 24 hours per month. Reserve officers are issued the same uniform and equipment as their career counterparts, respond to 911 calls for service, issue citations for traffic violations and perform a broad range of police officer duties.
Reserve officers also participate in The Reserve Corps Focused Initiative (RCFI). As part of RCFI, reserve officers patrol high-priority areas in a designated district on rotating Friday or Saturday evenings. The RCFI events continue once per month to date. Ordinarily 10-15 reserve members will come in service to provide a high-visibility patrol. Members are instrumental in reducing crime rates, making arrests and providing additional community relations functions.
Applicants selected as reserve recruit officers undergo a comprehensive training program, commensurate with MPD career police officer training standards. Reserve recruits undergo six months of police academy training, conducted every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 pm-10:30 pm and on Saturdays from 7 am-3:30 pm weekly (with the first Saturday of each month off). Additionally, recruits complete a 10-day firearms training and proficiency course which occurs on Monday through Friday, 6:30 am-2 pm or 3 pm-11 pm. Other topics of reserve training include:
- Defensive tactics.
- Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).
- Intelligence, counter terrorism and gangs.
- Vehicle skills training course.
- Mental illness.
- Diversity training.
- Crime scene control and processing.
- Traffic regulation and traffic control.
- Criminal investigations.
- Laws of arrest, search and seizure.
- DC Code.
History of the MPD Reserve Corps:
MPD’s Reserve Corps began during World War II when a Civil Defense Force was organized to give extra protection to the nation’s capital and DC residents. Members of the new Reserve Corps were first deployed on Oct. 31, 1951, to guard fire alarm boxes to prevent the sounding of false alarms on Halloween Night. In 1961, the Reserve Corps was called to duty and sworn in to assist with the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. Throughout the 1960s, the Reserve Corps was frequently called upon to assist with demonstrations and civil insurgence arising from national tragedies such as the assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1970, an MPD general order set forth the policy, procedures and responsibilities of the Reserve Corps. This general order was updated and reissued most recently in October 2017.
When is the next Academy class?
Ordinarily, the Metropolitan Police Department starts a Reserve Police Academy at least once a year during July or August and a second class could open in January based on enrollment. If you are considering joining the Department as a Reserve Police Officer, submit an MPD interest card to learn more and begin the application process.
What is the difference between serving as a Reserve Officer and an Entry-Level Officer?
Reserve Police Officers are volunteers. Members of the Reserve Corps serve in patrol-related capacities, typically are armed members and are expected to volunteer at least 24 hours per month. Entry-level officers are full time employees and receive compensation for their service. While on patrol both reserve police officers and career police officers have the same duties.
What are the expenses associated with becoming a volunteer officer?
There are no formal expenses to join the Reserve Corps. All initial application costs are covered by the Department. During training, all required uniform and equipment items are provided to each member at no cost. Upon graduation from the training academy, there are no further costs. The Department does not reimburse members for travel to and from their duty assignments; however, while on duty the Department covers all costs associated with a member’s volunteer service.
Does MPD provide insurance or other benefits in case I am hurt while volunteering?
In the unexpected and unfortunate instance that a Reserve Corps member is injured in the line of duty, all Reserve Corps members are covered by the District of Columbia’s workman’s compensation program.
How often do I have to serve if I join the Reserve Corps?
The Reserve Corps is a volunteer organization. Upon completion of the intensive training and field training programs, armed members are expected to volunteer at least 24 hours per month. Unarmed members are expected to volunteer at least 16 hours per month. Many of our volunteers go well above and beyond the minimum expectations, as they enjoy providing voluntary service to the Washington, DC community.
Do I have to testify if I make an arrest? I have a full-time job that would make it difficult to appear during the day.
Yes. As a sworn reserve police officer in the District of Columbia, you are required to comply with all mandatory court appearances (i.e., papering, preliminary hearings and trials). Each applicant should consider their full-time employment when deciding whether the Reserve Corps is right for them.
Are there any differences in the uniform that Reserve members wear?
Reserve Corps members are issued identical equipment to their career service counterparts. Reserve officers have a badge in the ‘8000’ series.
Can Reserve members drive MPD vehicles and use other Department resources?
Yes. Reserve Corps officers are fully trained police officers in the District of Columbia.
What is the culture like within the Reserve Corps?
The Reserve Corps maintains a positive culture dedicated to volunteer service. Members contribute considerable portions of their time to help strengthen the police department and the Washington, DC community. The best way to understand the Reserve Corps’ culture is to come to a New Candidate Orientation or do a ride-along with one of our members.
Do I get to choose where I can patrol as a Reserve member?
Each Reserve Corps member can request their top three police district preferences at the time of graduation. Although consideration is given to each member’s preference, ultimately the location of assignment is determined by the Department based upon operational needs.
Still have questions? Check the MPD Helpdesk to see if we’ve answered it.