HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) - The Los Angeles Police Department started a new foot patrol program Friday, adding 15 uniformed unpaid, reserve officers to the Hollywood beat.
The new patrol officers are members of the department's reserve police force, officers who receive the same training as their full-time counterparts, but are unpaid volunteers who have jobs outside of the police force.
"Right now, we're out here letting the citizens in the community and business owners know that we are here," Officer Sammy Hsu said.
Hsu works works in legal information technology for a law firm, but he puts a badge one day a week and goes where he's needed.
"It's a complete 180 and that's part of the attraction, at least for me," the volunteer officer said. "My day job, i sit behind a desk and I help attorneys, but out here, I get to interact with the community and when I go home at the end of my shift, a lot of times I actually feel like I made a difference in the world."
While some are calling for fewer officers on the streets, the LAPD says the reserve officers are the exact bridge this community needs during an unprecedented time.
"The more officers we can put out here walking foot-beats and talking to people and interacting with them, we're gonna make sure, as more people do come out, this is a safe environment to bring your family," Deputy Chief Blake Chow said.
The LAPD has about 400 reserve officers.
"They come from all walks of life. We have doctors, attorneys, people who own businesses, we have people that work for the postal service. You name it, we've got it," Chow said.
Many, like officer Hsu, have had so much training, they can do anything a paid officer can do, such as making arrests, writing citations and crisis negotiations, something that some tourists find comforting.
"I think it's great, keeps things in order," one man told CBSLA.
"I do it for free because I love what I do," Hsu said, "and I love the people of LA."
The beefed up foot patrols are just during the day, but LAPD hasn't ruled out adding them at night as more people get out and about and more businesses open back up.
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