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A Bit of Reserve History by Former Reserve Jim Gullane

Auxiliary police units were formed in the mid 50’s and were an arm of Civil Defense. These units were formed as a result of the cold war between Russia and the United States and were designed to assist in fallout shelters in case of nuclear attack. The units were trained in shelter management, traffic, firearms (they were armed), and various aspects of law enforcement. All training was provided by Civil Defense and by today’s standards was quite crude. Uniforms were made by the wives of members and were blue in our county. And yes, there were women in the unit, even in the 50’s. Some of the older folks may remember the yellow “fallout shelter” signs located in almost all of the businesses that had basements. Keep in mind that these units were not associated with any law enforcement agency. In our county, the unit was called the Washington County Auxiliary Police.

The unit here provided security and parking assistance at the Hulah Lake boat races, July 4th fireworks, and various parades. As time progressed, the cold war ended and the government decided there was no longer a need for these types of units. This happened in the early 70’s. The government stated that the units would go under a law enforcement agency or disband. In our county, Police Chief W.J. Jarvis was asked if he would be willing to take on the unit. He stated he would and immediately assigned then Lt. Larry Silver,Sr. to take on the task. Larry immediately stripped all rank and stated he would assign rank when he figured out who deserved it. At the time of the police department take over, there were no non-ranking members, everyone had a rank starting with commander and ranging down to sergeant. It is worth mentioning that at this time there were no state statues defining or even coming close to governing “civilian police units”. After several months, Larry appointed one captain, three lieutenants, and three sergeants. He appointed me as captain, a position I held for 20 years or so. Three of the units members decided they needed some training that was sanctioned by CLEET. Wayne Clark, Joe Slack, and I went to a regular police officer certification school in Claremore, which then was 120 clock hours. At graduation, they didn’t know how to certify us as there were still no statutes on the books, so they gave us regular officer certification. Also in this time frame, an organization called the Oklahoma Reserve Law Officers Association was formed, and Larry was appointed as the president. Larry came to me one day and requested I give him $20. Not being one to argue with Larry, I did. He then told me I was a member of the organization and was on the advisory board. Larry and I went to many of the reserve meetings around the state promoting ORLA. It is worth mentioning that the dues for ORLA have not changed since that time. Larry, in addition to several state senators (Jerry Pierce included) decided there should be some statues on the books governing reserve officers, or at least defining them. The first statutes were somewhat crude by today’s standards but were at least a good start. Thru the next several years, Larry was instrumental in getting more statues on the books. As many of you know, Larry became a police captain and then sheriff of Washington County. He was an avid supporter of the reserve units, both police and county until his death. His legacy has carried on thru former Sheriff Pat Ballard’s administration and now Sheriff Rick Silver’s administration. (Rick doesn’t dare not follow in his Dad’s footsteps)

The local police reserve unit decided to have elections for command posts rather than appointments. I was fortunate enough to be elected captain until I decided to give up that post, some 20 years later. Thru the years, there have been quite a few reserve officers that have gone on to be full time officers, a fact worth mentioning. Notably, our current sheriff, Rick Silver is one of them.

When I retired from Phillips in 1992, I decided to transfer to the Washington County Sheriff’s Reserves, thinking they would not work me as hard. I was a bit wrong on that one but it has been a pleasure to serve this organization, and continues to be.

From personal observation, I think the Bartlesville Police Reserve and the Washington County Sheriff’s Reserve are two of the best units in the state.

We should all be thankful to Larry Silver,Sr. for getting the ball rolling with the state and getting the initial statues on the books.

ORLA still lobbies for reserve officers and continues to update statues. Someday, we may get retirement, much like volunteer firemen.






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Explorer Group 2017