SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced a new program Friday that would allow reserve deputies to provide security at local churches free of charge.
Salazar said the Reserve Deputy Church Security Program was created in light of the tragedy of the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in November 2017 in hopes of deterring criminal activity at churches and providing a safe environment for people to worship.
Reserve deputies are required to perform a minimum of 16 duty hours per month in support of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office to maintain their Texas Commission on Law Enforcement peace officer's license. Now, deputies will have the option of volunteering their time with the reserves in the School Resource Program or through the new Reserve Deputy Church Security Program.
Salazar said two school districts currently participate in the school Resource Program, Southwest Independent School District and East Central ISD.
The Reserve Deputy Church Security Program is available for churches that may not able to afford private security.
The reserve deputies are volunteers who have primary careers other than law enforcement. The Sheriff's Reserve Unit provides support to BCSO law enforcement and detention bureaus.
Salazar said the BCSO has about 50 reserve deputies currently. Anyone interested in becoming a reserve deputy or having reserve deputies volunteer at their place of worship is asked to contact Deputy Fred Feliciano at 210-372-4879.
Salazar encouraged anyone who wanted to sponsor someone to go through San Antonio College's training program to call 210-486-1692. It costs about $1,600 to obtain a peace officer's license.