New State Law Causing Winamac Police Department to Rethink Adding Reserve Officer

The Winamac Police Department has been offered some free help, but a new state law may prevent the town from accepting it. Former Medaryville police officer Sheri Gaillard has volunteered to serve as an unpaid reserve officer in Winamac, according to Town Marshal Mike Buchanan. He told the town council Monday that he liked the idea, for when the department needs an extra person every once in a while.

But starting January 1, 2018, local police departments will be responsible for medical expenses, if a reserve officer is injured or gets sick in the line of duty. They would also have to pay reserve officers minimum wage for up to 260 weeks, if they’re unable to work their usual job due to that injury. Buchanan said it would cost the town $1,000 a year to add a reserve officer to its workers’ compensation policy, and that would only cover up to $25,000 for medical expenses.

Council members wondered if it would actually be cheaper to hire Gaillard as a paid part-time officer, instead. Buchanan agreed to check and see if that would lower the cost of insurance.