Officer Pam LeSage retired back in June but has stayed on as a reserve officer. She now spends her time training Citizens on Patrol volunteers, who write police reports and assist officers throughout town. LeSage said she wasn't quite ready to retire but made the decision in order to take advantage of a fixed rate return on part of her retirement savings. "I enjoyed going to work, even working nights and going to work at night. I still enjoyed coming to work and taking care of things," said LeSage.
LeSage is one of 17 officers who retired in June. About half of those retirees decided to stay on in some capacity and the department now has more former officers volunteering than ever before. "It's a win-win situation for us, because we have the employees that are transitioning into retirement and they have a lot of skills and talents the department could definitely use," said Fresno Police Captain Lydia Carrasco.
Captain Carrasco said the department can use all the help it can get after losing more than half of its support staff in the last two years. Sgt. Henry Jacobo is a reserve officer who volunteers his time as a Skywatch pilot. "It benefits me because I enjoy flying so it's something I can enjoy doing. It's been a good career for me so it's one way to help the department, especially with the budget crisis," said Jacobo.
In just the last month, LeSage has logged 50 hours as a volunteer but the amount varies from officer to officer based on their availability. Of all the things LeSage could be doing with her retirement, she said returning to the department was a no-brainer. "The payment check we get from retirement is very nice. I did well with that. Why would I go take a job from someone who really needs it just so I can have something to do, when I can have something to do and volunteer and give back to the city?" said LaSage.
The department now has 15 former officers volunteering. Some are reserve officers and others are in administrative roles. In addition to them, a few civilians are also volunteering their time after being laid off or retiring. There are also about 75 Citizens on Patrol.