Years before he caught people breaking the law as a Spokane reserve police officer, John R. Case was doing it as a citizen.
Case was honored this month for volunteering as an officer for 20 years, a tenure unprecedented in recent times.
His mother-in-law, Diane Augustine, remembered how Case, before he got a badge, once jumped out of his car and caught a vandal who destroyed a restaurant sign with a rock. Case told the boy that they were headed to the police, but when the culprit broke into tears, Case made him a deal: he’d take him to his mom if the boy would go to the restaurant the next day to take responsibility, Augustine said.
“Later on, John checked and, sure enough, he had made restitution to take care of the problem,” Augustine said.
Since joining the reserve program, Case has provided more than 5,000 hours of service without pay, said Sgt. Frank Scalise, who oversees the reserves and other volunteer efforts in the department.
“He is always there. If you need him, he comes,” Scalise said. “Not only is he always there, but you can count on him when he is there.”
Case, an owner of South Regal Lumber, began training to be a reserve officer after his wife saw a notice in the newspaper. In the years since, he has become the longest-serving reserve officer in Spokane since at least 1974, Scalise said.
Reserves don’t get paid, but when on duty have the same authority as full-time officers. They wear the same uniforms, carry guns and make arrests.
Reserves work special assignments, traffic and crowd control for special events, and ride with full-time officers to provide back-up. There are currently 11 reserves on the force.
“You can kind of sample all the things a regular officer does,” Case said.
Case said he’s still enjoying the work and plans to keep going as long as he’s able. And when he’s not, he’ll volunteer in the department’s senior program, he said.
Many of Spokane’s reserve officers use the volunteer work as a stepping stone for a full-time job, Scalise said.
Case’s willingness to work for the fun of the work and the benefit of taxpayers was a major theme of a surprise party thrown by the department this month in Case’s honor. But there was another significant message that was repeated, speaker after speaker.
“I’d be glad to have him as a partner,” said Terry Ferguson, a Spokane major crimes detective who started as a reserve officer at the same time as Case. “I’d trust him to watch my back.”