IF YOU GO

What: Underage Reserve Deputy Golf Tournament to benefit the San Juan County Sheriff's Office reserve deputy program


When: Saturday, Sept. 21


Where: Hidden Valley Golf Course, 29 Road 3025 in Aztec


Cost: Hidden $100 for a single player, which includes a round of gold, golf cart, lunch and drinks


Information: Contact the sheriff's office at 505-334-6107 or go to sjcsofoundation.com.

AZTEC Unpaid reserve deputies have an important role in the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, and the sheriff said he wants their responsibilities to grow.

Sheriff Ken Christesen said he plans to assign his most experienced reserves to a soon-to-be-formed cold case squad that will investigate unsolved homicides.

Reserve deputies are unpaid law officers who are trained and act as deputies. They are deputized and carry weapons. The reserves often ride along with full-time deputies and assist with securing scenes and other police work. They also patrol special events, Christesen said. They don't work or make arrests alone.

"These men and women put on a gun, badge and body armor and are exposed to the same risks as our paid deputies, and they don't get paid a thing," Christesen said.

Christesen said private donations have been critical to the recent success of the reserve deputy program. Later this month, the program is hosting its first-ever golf tournament to raise money.

The Reserve Deputy Golf Tournament on Sept. 21 will raise money for the sheriff's office foundation, which will use the money for the reserve deputy program.

Christesen restarted the office's reserve deputy program after he became sheriff in January 2011. There are currently 29 reserve deputies, and the office is looking to boost that number to 40 after a February police academy program.

There are 102 full-time deputies in the sheriff's office, which means about 22 percent of its deputies are unpaid.

Taxpayers only pay to train, cloth and arm the reserve deputies.

The reserves average 5,000 volunteer hours each year, said Lt. Dave Hamlin, who oversees the program. That saves taxpayers roughly $250,000 in personnel expenses, if the reserves were paid like full-time deputies.

There are currently 29 San Juan County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputies, and the office is looking to boost that number to 40 after a February
There are currently 29 San Juan County Sheriff's Office reserve deputies, and the office is looking to boost that number to 40 after a February police academy program. (Courtesy of San Juan County Sheriff's Office)

Christesen said some of the reserves are retired from law enforcement and volunteer to stay close to the position. Others are men and women who have full-time jobs and work as deputies to give back to their community.

The reserve program is also a pipeline to full-time deputy work. The office can pull people from the reserves and hire them to full-time positions. Christesen started working at the sheriff's office as a reserve deputy.

Darren Baysinger, who has been a reserve deputy for more than two years, sells truck parts for a living but says he has always had an affinity for law enforcement.

"I want the average citizen to feel safe and to give back to the community," he said.

Baysinger usually volunteers to ride along with a full-time deputy during the swing shift, which is from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.

"It's rewarding, and the sheriff has been great at getting us involved. I wish I could volunteer more," he said. "Every night is different ... and that's exciting."

Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and rboetel@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.