Deputy Jim Green’s ringtone is the “COPS” theme song: “Bad Boys.”
He’s patrolling State Road 135 north when a call comes in. “I love you, son,” he says, before he hangs up.
Green can’t promise that he will make it home at the end of his shift.
“I always tell them I love them every time I talk to them,” he said.
A reserve sheriff’s deputy, Green is a volunteer.
Helping people is in his blood.
His father was a reserve police officer in Bartholomew County for 26 years, and was a volunteer firefighter before that.
“If he had been a brain surgeon, I would have been one,” Green said.
“I’ve always liked law enforcement, though,” he added. “You don’t do it for the money.
“You gotta love what you do, or it’s not worth it.”
Love is what Green has for working as a police officer.
“I think law enforcement is the best profession in the world,” he said.
He was sworn in as a reserve deputy in Brown County on Jan. 21, 2015 — three days before retiring as as a Bartholomew County deputy, after 28 years of service.
Green still lives in Bartholomew County — he is also a volunteer firefighter in the town of Clifford — but most of the time, he can be found serving and protecting Brown County citizens.
“Everybody over here is so nice. It’s a different world,” he said.
He spoke about a time last summer when his police vehicle had a flat tire. He pulled over at Gnaw Mart and began to lift the vehicle up with a scissor jack.
Two young men pulled up in a pickup truck.
“(They said) ‘Get out from underneath there. That scissor jack will kill you.’ They pulled their big jack out and changed the tire. I’m like, ‘My gosh.’ I couldn’t believe it. I never had that before,” he said.
Green was recently hired full-time as a Cordry Sweetwater deputy. But he still finds time to volunteer in the county, especially if it helps cover shifts.
He has covered the county by himself before, too. The sheriff’s department has 10 full-time officers, but that number could decrease to eight once two detective slots are filled, Public Information Officer Greg Pittman said.
“That’s when the reserves really come into play,” said Keith Baker, the reserve officer commander.
“They, a lot of times if we are shorthanded, will come out to fill that void while one of the full-time merit officers is not going to be available for whatever reason.”
Because of his background, Green did not need any additional training to patrol in Brown County.
He is a trained hostage negotiator, certified breath test operator, certified water rescuer and the fleet manager responsible for putting the decals on and wiring new police vehicles.
“I had to learn the computer system and the county. That’s it,” he said.
Learning Brown County has been an experience when compared to Bartholomew. Brown County doesn’t offer as many shortcuts, and Green has learned not to rely on his GPS in some parts, he said.
“Over in Bartholomew County, it’s all flat,” he said. “But here, if we’re back at the Morgan-Brown County line, it may take you 40 minutes to get down to Story running hot.”
By day, you can find Wayne Robbins at Wright’s Auto Parts in Gnaw Bone where he can tell almost anything about your car.But at night or on weekends, you’re likely to find him behind the wheel of a police vehicle.
With his son in high school and daughter in college, he said he’s reached a point in life where he felt like he could give back to his community.
He was recently authorized to drive on his own. In December and January, Robbins put in 100 hours of volunteer patrol time when Wright’s Auto Parts was closed for the holidays.
Reserve deputies are expected to contribute a minimum of 16 to 20 hours per month.
“If you want auto parts, I can tell you anything about a car you want to know. There’s nothing I couldn’t tell you, pretty much,” he said.
“In law enforcement, you have so many different sections of it. When you pull up on a scene, and say it’s a domestic battery, you’ve got to first separate the people and you’ve got to do an investigation on who maybe battered who.
“It’s a lot more challenging. Every situation is different.”
What Robbins loves is helping people. He spoke of a time when he and Green returned a woman’s deceased father’s class ring back to her after it was stolen.
“She sent me back a two-page letter thanking us,” he said.
“That’s why we do it, right there.”
Pittman said people choose law enforcement because they have a passion to help others.
“Many of the uniform patrol officers place their lives on the line for their fellow citizens for nothing but a feeling of fulfillment and dedication,” he said.
Robbins rode with Green often before being credentialed to go out on his own. He shared with Robbins the importance of reading body language during a reckless driving stop on Gatesville Road.“I was undoing my seat belt to get out and he said, ‘The driver’s got a gun.’“I said ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Yup, he’s got a gun. Watch his body language and the way he is moving around in his seat,’” Robbins remembered.
The driver did have a gun, but it was registered to him and he was cooperative.
“You just don’t know what you’re dealing with on a stop. A stop could go bad. It could be a meth head with a gun, too,” Robbins said.
Green makes sure to listen to his gut.
“I told Wayne, ‘It will come, it will come to you,’” he said.
The No. 1 piece of advice Green tells reserve deputies is to give respect.
As he’s walking into the highway Circle K for another coffee refill, Green stops to say hello to a woman whose hands are full with soft drinks. He flashes the smile you see often on his face.
She looks surprised as to why an officer is speaking to her, but returns a smile before Green makes his way into the store.
“Treat everybody the way you want to be treated,” Green said. “Treat them with respect, and you’ll get respect.”
Applications to become a volunteer reserve deputy can be picked up at the Brown County Sheriff’s Department.
Reserve officers should be residents of the county and have a strong work ethic and “community footing,” said Public Information Officer Greg Pittman.
No law enforcement experience is necessary.
Before given arrest powers, all sworn officers, whether paid or volunteer, must complete a 40-hour pre-basic course on legal statutes, citizen rights, protections, defensive tactics, use of force doctrine and proficiency with firearms. State law and constitutional law are also included.
Even though it is not mandated by the state, most departments require reserve deputies to attend advanced training and extensive field training before letting them drive a police vehicle on their own.
They can ride along with other reserve officers once they complete the 40-hour pre-basic training.
All officers must also take at least 24 hours of additional instruction per year.
In 2015, the Brown County Sheriff’s Department hosted its first reserve academy. Reserves attended sessions two or three nights per week for four months and some Saturdays to learn the same material paid officers do at the 16-week Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.
Reserve deputies must sit through an oral exam administered by a local selection board to operate on their own in the county. “They literally probably have 500 to 1,000 hours out on the road before we trust them to go into the left seat and go take a car,” said reserve officer Commander Keith Baker.
Reserve officers drive vehicles that have been passed down to them when paid deputies’ cars are upgraded every few years.
They also use hand-me-down equipment, but some reserve deputies choose to purchase their own.
Those who wish to eventually work as a full-time, paid police officer may choose to start their career by becoming a jailer, dispatcher or reserve officer.
Public Information Officer Greg Pittman began as a dispatcher before becoming a reserve officer for the Nashville Police Department, then being hired as a merit officer.
“I don’t think anybody can say 100 percent they know for sure until they actually get out there and do it,” Pittman said about a career in law enforcement.
Starting as a jailer, dispatcher or reserve also gives the department a chance to see a potential candidate in action, said Keith Baker, reserve officer commander.
“It gives us a chance to look at them and see what their motivation is to be a policeman and how they interact with the community and find out that not everybody is maybe cut out to be the kind of officer that we’re looking for,” Baker said.
The experience will also give candidates a leg up when applying for a full-time officer job.
“Given two candidates, if one of the candidates has been a reserve or jailer or dispatcher, they’ll usually get some sort of heads up over the other person who has no law enforcement experience,” Baker said. “They understand the training a little bit better.”
The Brown County Sheriff’s Department can now call on 20 reserve deputies.
The Nashville Police Department also has a reserve officer program with up to 15 slots; 10 are currently open.
“This last year we’ve been doing an awful lot of training and recruiting. That number is high. It’s been as low as five in the last few years,” said Keith Baker, reserve officer commander for the sheriff’s department.
Reserve officers provide traffic and crowd control for community events including parades, the 4-H fair, school athletic events, natural disasters and hazardous material spills. The jail also utilizes two reserve deputies to transport inmates to court and other agencies.
The sheriff’s department’s School Cop Program and TRIAD are operated by reserve deputies. TRIAD members and jail ministry staff do not have arrest powers, but the department’s chaplain, Don Whetstine, does.
Reserve officers provide an average of 5,000 hours per year of volunteer service to the county.
“Considering that a paid county employee works approximately 2,000 (hours) per year, this is a considerable contribution,” said Greg Pittman, the department’s public information officer.
For the NPD program, applications can be downloaded from townofnashville.org under “police department.” Applicants must be at least 21, have no criminal history and pass a background check, and must work a minimum of 16 hours per month if selected.
The Nashville Police Department has a reserve police officer program similar to the sheriff’s department’s, but it is also looking for people to volunteer in a different way.
Nashville Police Chief Ben Seastrom said duties, on a weekly basis, include enforcing parking ordinances, but mostly being an “ambassador” to guests to answer questions about Nashville.
Volunteers will carry town maps and will be asked to walk around and be visible as a representative of the community and police department.
Background checks will be done on all interested applicants and they will complete the same application process as a reserve deputy. Training will be provided.