The Dallas County Commissioners Court Tuesday grilled the sheriff and constables over the use of reserve deputies.
It came on the same day Tulsa Oklahoma Reserve Sheriff's Deputy Robert Bates pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in the April 2 shooting death of a suspect Bates said he meant to subdue with a Taser.
"I understand the community's concerns and I share the community's concerns about a lot of what's happening in other departments," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.
Sheriff Lupe Valdez said she has 34 volunteer reserve deputies who contribute about $250,000 worth of time a year.
Valdez said those reserves mostly help with prisoner transfers and crowd control at large events.
In addition, other reserve deputies support the Sheriff's Posse, which provides horseback search and rescue and ceremonial duties. Several more reserves work part time as court bailiffs.
Valdez said reserves receive the same training regular deputies receive and must undergo 40 hours of retraining every 2 years.
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"A trained officer makes a better officer, so we just continue to train and hold them accountable," Valdez said. "We have meetings with them and our staff meets with them."
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price questioned whether all the reserves are fit for duty.
"I've got a community that's got a right to hear what is happening in law enforcement," Price said.
The sheriff's reserve commander, Assistant Chief Deputy Teddy Jones, is also an Irving firefighter.
Jones said three reserves have been serving so long they are "grandfathered" into rules that ended in the 1980s providing them with lifetime certification without further tests in return for past training.
Jones said another group of reserve deputies are performing light duty.
"I have a few that are going through cancer treatments right now. They are not working enforcement assignments. They're doing administrative assignments," Jones said.
Valdez promised to provide Commissioner Price a copy of the latest state audit of Dallas County Sheriff's Department reserves deputies to show the program complies with state rules.
Three Dallas County constables also said their reserve deputies are property trained and licensed.