Global progressive policing

Prof Ross Wolf discusses volunteer policing with Dr Iain Britton (Part 1)

Volunteer policing / Special Constabulary

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In this conversation, Dr. Ian Britton interviews Professor Ross Wolf, an expert on volunteer policing.

They discuss various aspects of volunteer policing, including the operation of the reserve unit in Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the involvement of volunteers in specialist areas of policing, the retention and longevity of volunteer officers, and the variation in volunteer policing practices across the United States. 

They also discuss topics such as the role of the Volunteer Law Enforcement Officer Alliance, the future of volunteer policing, and the understanding of volunteer policing by senior leaders as well as opportunities for paid shifts in volunteer policing, the impact of paid shifts on volunteer retention, the experience of being a volunteer leader, and the challenges in recruiting volunteer police.


  • Volunteer policing serves as a stepping stone for individuals interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement.
  • The operation of volunteer policing units varies across different agencies and countries.
  • Volunteer officers can be involved in various specialist areas of policing, depending on their training and qualifications. Retention of volunteer officers can be influenced by factors such as the availability of paid shifts and the opportunity to engage in meaningful work.
  • There is a lack of standardized data collection on volunteer policing practices, making it difficult to assess the overall landscape of volunteer policing.
  • The Volunteer Law Enforcement Officers’ Alliance aims to bring together leaders and practitioners in volunteer policing to share best practices.
  • The future of volunteer policing lies in creating stronger connections between police and the communities they serve. Senior leaders in policing may not always fully understand the potential contributions of volunteer police.
  • Paid shifts can help with the retention of volunteer officers by providing financial incentives and flexibility. Being a volunteer leader in policing offers a different experience from a paid service leadership role.
  • Recruiting for volunteer policing can be challenging, especially in the context of declining interest in law enforcement careers.

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