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I just wanted to say thanks for a great article: “Almost Blue” (10/31) by Jason Cherkis. As a fellow reserve officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), I applaud your efforts in bringing to light the problems that plague the MPD Reserve Corps. Many other cities across the county have very successful reserve programs—the officers are equipped and trained, and save the city thousands of dollars each year.

We have all heard about how strapped D.C. is for money—it seems there is never enough. But think of the impact the police reserves could have on the crime in this city. All it would cost is to properly train and equip them.

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Let’s say there are 150 reserve officers—Chief Charles Ramsey wants 600—and we take an average starting salary that an MPD rookie right out of the academy would make, $40,000 a year, divided by 2080 hours a year: $19.23. For argument’s sake, let’s round that to $20 an hour. That is how much each reserve officer saves the city per hour, not to mention other benefits—sick leave, annual leave, insurance, and so forth. Of course, the hourly rate would increase with experience—I am sure Reserve Officer Matt LeFande would be making top pay.

The minimum hours a reserve is required to put in is 16 hours per month. That equals 192 hours per year at $20 per hour—that’s $3,840 a year. (I do not have actual manpower numbers; I am sure the MPD can provide them.) Roughly $3,840 a year x 150 officers = $576,000 a year. I put in 958 hours in 2003. At $20 per hour, I alone saved MPD $19,160.

Now, if the chief is successful and the city can train and equip a reserve corps of 600 members, at $3,840 a year, that yields $2,304,000.

In reality, I think the average reserve officer is putting in closer to 32 hours per month. And 32 hours x 12 months = 384 hours a year for each reserve officer. At $20 an hour, that yields $7,680 a year saved per officer. And $7,680 x 150 reserve officers = $1,152,000.

Now, if the chief is successful and the city can train and equip a reserve corps of 600 members: $7,680 a year x 600 officers = $4,608,000.

These are just estimated potential savings, of course. No matter what the real figures, for every hour a volunteer works, it saves the city money. If the MPD Reserve Corps does not start getting the backing from the community, the city will have to raise taxes or find other means to pay career officers to do the job. If the fire department can have a very active volunteer force, why not the police?

Fort Washington, Md.