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Civilian Services

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 63 Issue: 11 Dated: (November 1994) Pages: 21-24
B D Wilkerson
Date Published
4 pages
The use of civilian employees represents one approach to dealing with increasing demands for police services; civilianization enables more sworn police officers to answer service calls requiring full police powers and provides timely service for other types of calls that can be handled by civilians.
Expanding the role of civilians presents some distinct advantages to law enforcement agencies, but sworn police officers may oppose the use of civilians. Police departments can begin to civilianize by identifying positions that civilian employees can fill. The National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals recommends against selecting positions that require peace officer status, arrest powers, and expertise normally acquired only through field experience. Educating the community about the benefits of hiring civilians with limited law enforcement powers and changing police officer attitudes toward civilianization are important. The most critical step in implementing a successful civilian program is to build acceptance among police officers. In addition, all management levels must support civilianization. A familiarization program for both police officers and civilians can clarify the different functions. In Kentucky, legislation has been adopted that gives civilians limited law enforcement powers. Civilian citation officers issue citations for motor vehicle statute violations, while civilian public safety officers issue citations for misdemeanors or criminal offenses committed in their presence. Prudent personnel selection and training are integral elements in a successful civilian program. Police departments should also recognize that hiring retired personnel, sworn or civilian, may be a desirable approach to filling civilian positions. Legal issues raised by the employment of civilian officers are discussed, and the cost-effectiveness of using civilians in Kentucky police departments is examined. 11 endnotes and 6 photographs