Auxiliary program could return

The new town of Louisa police chief, Tom Leary, says he supports bringing back the auxiliary police program that allows volunteers to serve alongside paid officers.

Leary was appointed to his position by the Louisa Town Council at its Dec. 17 meeting. A former deputy chief in Henrico County, Leary had served as the town’s chief in an interim capacity since September.

The town council suspended the auxiliary program in August after the resignation of Randall Skeen, the former chief. Skeen had been chief for just two months, after a stint as a lieutenant under the previous chief, Ronnie Roberts. Skeen began his tenure with the town as an auxiliary officer; after he resigned, most of the auxiliary officers followed suit in protest.

Neither town officials nor former auxiliary officers have said what the issues were with Skeen or the auxiliary program. Mayor Garland Nuckols said Skeen resigned for personal reasons.

Town manager Liz Nelson submitted a recommended auxiliary policy to the town council at its Dec. 17 meeting. Leary said the proposed policy won’t be that different from what the town had in place before, with a few minor exceptions.

The state classifies auxiliary officers into three categories, levels one through three. Those at level one have the same training as paid officers and can handle the same duties. Leary said officers at the other two levels are more likely to handle less demanding tasks such as helping with traffic control. Officers at level two may have the ability to ride along with paid staff on patrol and may carry a firearm.

The town’s draft policy says that auxiliary officers shall be under the chief’s supervision at all times. The town manager can deny individuals an appointment to the position and suspend or remove them.

“It gives the town manager the ability to collaborate with the chief on all matters related to the auxiliary,” Leary said.

The auxiliary program can be an asset to the town in helping ensure enough staff is available to handle assignments, Leary said. But he said the police department has been stable without it.

“It hasn’t been a strain without the auxiliary these past few months,” he said.

It’s possible the men who served as auxiliaries for the department before could fill that role again.

“I’d welcome them back once we’re up to speed,” Leary said. He noted that he has not met with all of the former volunteers yet and hasn’t reviewed their records.