In Part One of this series, we asked a civilian law enforcement volunteer manager to tell us about this unique law enforcement job. Today, we will hear from a sworn law enforcement officer for whom volunteer management is just one part of a busy job.
Lieutenant Michael Nelsen, Brigham City, Utah, Police Department
In addition to volunteer management, what are some of your other job duties at BCPD?
I am the Operations Lieutenant. I oversee all patrol functions of the patrol and traffic officers. I also oversee the Animal Control Officers and the Animal Shelter. I am the primary Public Information Officer for our Police Department. I am a member of the SWAT Team and am commander of the Negotiations Unit. I am also the Safety Officer for the Department. I further oversee our K-9 units, bicycle officers, training division, Field Training Officers, and the physical fitness of the Department. I currently serve on the Utah State Citizens Corp Council to help get more volunteers involved in emergency response.
How would you define the role of a law enforcement volunteer manager?
The primary duties of a law enforcement volunteer manager are to get the program running and keep it running. As a law enforcement officer, my primary job is the police work, but the volunteer coordinator role is an essential part of police work. It allows us to have volunteers that can help and assist our officers and office staff. Many times it is hard to find time to accomplish everything that is put on your plate, so the volunteers are a big help.
What are some of the things that make the job of a volunteer coordinator unique from other jobs in law enforcement?
We have a small group of volunteers at the BCPD, so it does not take the time that it would in a large Department. It is also different in that I can make Officers and employees do something, where with volunteers, they are just that; volunteers. I am just grateful for what service they can give. Many of them have other full time jobs and cannot give like an employee does. One challenge is that I have a budget for the Officers and their needs, but do not have one for the volunteers, so we have to be unique in thinking of different ways to get funds for uniforms or other volunteer program needs.
What is a typical day on the job like for you?
As a Police Officer, nothing is typical. Although many of the days are the same. In a typical day: I review all cases that our Officers handled in the last 24 hours. I report anything necessary to the Chief of Police. I arrange for all tours and public speaking that needs to be done or followed up on. I meet daily with the local newspaper and depending on activities, I meet with other media outlets. I approve training requests and purchase requests from our Officers each day. I review the budgets of the groups I oversee. We are currently down two Officers, so I frequently respond as a back-up Officer to assist with Domestic Violence, family fights, traffic accidents and many other cases where an Officer needs a back-up. Much of the day is full of paper work and keeping stats that are required of me. I have to review complaints as they come in and follow through with any citizens that feel they were not treated fairly.
To learn more about Brigham City Police Department’s volunteer program, click here.