EUGENE, Ore. - With sheriff patrol deputies stretched to the max, Lane County authorities are calling in the reserves.
The Lane County Sheriff's Office said the budget isn't there to hire more officers for road patrol.
So they're turning to a partial solution: doubling the reserve program to put volunteers out on the road.
"Lane County is extremely large," said Sgt. Carrie Carver. "We have 4,600 square miles."
Volunteer reserve deputies might help fill the gap.
"They attend to the calls, they interview. They can effect arrests," Carver said. "They can do a lot of the things regular deputy sheriff's do. They just generally don't ride solo."
In the last six months, the number of reserve deputies has nearly doubled from 8 to 14.
Managers said they want to double the ranks to nearly 30.
Reserve officers volunteer for at least 16 hours service a month.
Those hours can add up to safety. With nearly all the deputies out on their own driving by themselves, Carver said the sheriff hopes to fill more of the second seats with reservists.
"If he or she has a reserve riding alongside, that's another person to help out with the workload," Carver said. "That's another person there with another set of eyes and ears."
Reservists also get complete weapons training.
So why not increase the ranks to 60? Or 100?
"It would be very difficult, and you'd be very hard pressed to get somebody to volunteer 40 to 60 hours a week to have somebody shoot at them," Carver said.
There is plenty of interest in the program. The most recent signup period this summer brought 60 applications to the sheriff's office.
Carver adds the next round of academy training is early next year. The new reserves should be ready by the middle of 2013.