Given the nature of our association as members of arguably the biggest subgroup within the nation’s third-largest police department, I suppose a certain level of impersonality in the Reserve Unit is regrettably inevitable. As the officer-in-charge of a unit composed of more than 400 people, I can’t possibly get to know each one of you as well as I would like. Considering where the Reserve Unit is located (the Police Administrative Building in downtown L.A.), I understand we might not always appear very accessible to you either.
I get it. During all my years in patrol, I avoided PAB like the plague. It’s a weird place where everyone speaks in whispers and wears Class A’s for no apparent reason. Parking is nonexistent, and no matter where you’re coming from or what time you try to get here, you can bet traffic will be a nightmare. Good luck if the reason for your visit is an expired ID card, because you’ll need to scan it a half-dozen times to get to the person who can issue you a new one. Trust me, I get it. Even more important than demystifying the peccadillos of “the building,” I want to focus on our specific unit here. I want each of you to know me and my five officers personally. We should never just be some faceless serial numbers that send you emails every week. We are the people whose job it is to make your work as a reserve officer as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.
I introduced myself in the previous issue of The Rotator, so there’s no need to do it again, and I can’t imagine there’s a single reserve officer on the books who doesn’t know Officer Johnny Gil. Johnny has worked for the Reserve Unit in one way or another for the last decade. He is easily the most diligent and hardest working officer I’ve ever met anywhere in the Department. Most days, we have to remind him to stop and eat lunch. Between his unmatched work ethic, years of institutional knowledge and his sincere passion for the Reserve Corps, Johnny has made himself an irreplaceable presence in the unit. His partner and the constant yin to his yang is Officer Rosheen Rosenblum. Where Johnny is generally phlegmatic and doesn’t mince words, Ro is always cheerful and welcoming. She is one of those warm, friendly people who you meet and five minutes later you feel like you’ve been friends for years. She is a dependable and diligent worker and has become extremely knowledgeable in her own right.
Next, we have Officer Belinda Quezada, who has been in the unit for over four years. Belinda is a dedicated professional who works tirelessly, often behind the scenes. Given her stoic nature and quiet personality, it would be easy for her hard work to be overlooked. As her direct supervisor, I can tell you, she is an integral part of this team and is absolutely irreplaceable. Another staple of the unit is Officer Ismael Rosas. Ish is a committed family man and a great father. Those of you who have worked with us at an Operation School Bell event know how exceptional he is at dealing with children. Ish also has a great sense of humor and an encyclopedic knowledge of the best restaurants in every neighborhood in the city. If you take Ish to lunch, you can count on two things happening: it’ll be a great place you’ve never heard of, and he will attack his plate like a seagull at a dumpster. Last, we have Officer Ruben Vargas. Ruben is the newest member of the team, joining us just last DP. Ruben was previously the backup reserve coordinator at Rampart Division, so he is already very passionate about the program. In the short time he’s been here, he has already proven that his work ethic and productivity will make him fit right in. Our day-to-day work doesn’t always provide us with the best opportunity to express it, but all of us are here because we have a deep respect for the Reserve Corps, its history and its future.
Our team is responsible for all the day-to-day operations of the Reserve Corps. We respond to your questions, complete compliance audits, provide training to your divisional coordinators, schedule Reserve events, and monitor your training, hours and qualifications. In addition to these duties (which would already be a full-time job), we are also responsible for the recruiting of future reserves. It’s no secret that our program can only continue if we manage to recruit enough qualified candidates to keep up with the number of reserves who are retiring. To meet this need, we regularly set up and man recruitment booths at events all over the city. These events include Fleet Week, the L.A. Auto Show, job fairs and any other event that we believe might yield us valid candidates. Our recruitment efforts do not end there. Once an applicant has applied and formally entered the selection process, Reserve Unit personnel reach out to each candidate and begin the process of mentoring and motivating them through the long and arduous selection process. This is yet another full-time job.
We also conduct 100% of the background investigations for all reserve officer applicants from start to finish. Each of my five officers has attended and passed a POST Background Investigator School that qualified them to complete this huge undertaking. Obviously, this alone would also be a full-time job. Our work doesn’t stop there. Once we’ve recruited, mentored and formally vetted the next generation of reserve officers, we run their entire Reserve Academy too. We coordinate the Academy classes, making sure every aspect of the instruction and courses aligns with POST mandates and is identical to our full-time Police Academy. These same five officers doing all this work serve as the drill instructors for the Reserve Academy, which by itself is — say it with me — a full-time job.
But that’s still not all. When a full III, II and I Reserve Academy class is in session, it lasts an entire year, three days a week, at ARTC and Davis. While we are running the Academy, we have to maintain our recruitment efforts, our mentorship of current applicants and working our current slate of active background investigations. We never have the luxury of pausing any of these projects no matter how busy we get. These projects have to remain in constant motion, as even a temporary stagnation would interrupt the timing and prevent us from having the next crop of candidates ready to join the following Academy class. I detail this not to brag or toot our own horn. The reality is that most of the work we do is done behind the scenes, and it’s important that you know how your Reserve Unit is spending its time and what specific actions we are taking to improve the Reserve Corps and maintain our numbers.
You can find us on the second floor of PAB, Room 250 (the farthest north part of the building). If you can’t make it down to us, or if your ID card stops working, give us a call at (213) 486-6000. We want to help you any way we can.