The Denison City Council took a step Monday night to bolster its police force by establishing a reserve police force. The new force will support regular members of the police force during special events and when there is a need for additional officers.

The Denison City Council took a step Monday night to bolster its police force by establishing a reserve police force. The new force will support regular members of the police force during special events and when there is a need for additional officers.


Assistant Police Chief Joe Clapp, speaking before the Council on Monday, said the ultimate goal is to have 12 officers in the program. While these officers may be reserve, Clapp said they will be required to be a licensed peace officer, and will have the same duties as a regular Denison police officer.


"Our first target is to get five to six members and then expand it to 12," said Clapp.


Under the new program the officers will be required to maintain and keep up with their own training. Lt. Mike Eppler said the reserve officers will need to go through the same training as full-time police officers.


"To be a reserve officer is quite a commitment, because its the same amount of training on top of your regular job," said Eppler. "The people who want to join are very dedicated."


Eppler said he has had people approach the department looking for ways to help, but there wasn’t an avenue for them to do so until now.


Previously, the city has used members of the Denison Police Academy Alumni Association to help volunteer during events. While the new reserve officers will perform these duties, Eppler said they will also be able to ride on patrol and perform other duties while serving.


The program will be volunteer-based, said Eppler, and none of the officers will be paid. Retired police officers who are looking for a way to continue their service, and young officers who may not have found a police force to work with are the main groups likely to make up the reserve force, said Eppler.


The cost of the program is expected to be minimal, said Clapp. The department will provide the officers with their first uniform, with an expected cost of $1,800 to the city for 12 officers. As the officers are expected to work about 12 hours a month, Clapp said the annual cost for workers compensation coverage is expected to be $250.


City Manager Robert Hanna said this is an easy way for the city to provide the same level of police coverage during events, while reducing the need and expense of requiring officers to work overtime.


In other matters, the Council approved a request by St. Patrick Catholic Church, located at 314 N. Rusk Ave. to install a memorial brick plaza on the public sidewalk. As a part of the ongoing restoration of the 100-year-old church, the sidewalk will display the names of families who have been a part of the church in the past century, with room for future names.


"Our goal is to give (the church) another 100 years," said Frank Ventura, restoration committee chair for St. Patrick. Ventura said the church was looking for ways to even out the entrance for elderly and disabled parishioners who were having difficulty entering the church. These conversations led to the idea to create a memorial plaza at the entrance to the church.


Under the agreement, the church will be responsible for the costs of construction and maintenance of the display, and removal in the event that the city needs to work on utility right of ways under the sidewalk.


The church submitted two designs for consideration by the Council: one displayed a cross in the center of the display, while another did not.


"There is concern on staff’s part that this would set a precedent on the use of religious symbols," said Assistant City Manager Jud Rex, adding it may pave the way for requests to display of other religious symbols.


Mayor Jared Johnson said he approved of the design with the cross since to the request is coming from a church and because of St. Patrick’s history in Denison.


"The cross symbol is perfectly fine in my book," he said.


Council Member Janet Gott concurred, adding that she felt the symbol was appropriate for the request: "This is a 100-year-old landmark, and I feel it would be quite attractive."


The Council voted unanimously to approve the request for the design with the cross design.