Bruce Baillie joined Port Orchard’s volunteer police program because he thought it would help him start a small business.
“I thought that there would be some great money in teaching women how to shoot firearms,” he said. “I thought if I became part of the reserve, that would add credibility to my background.”
Baillie never started the business, but he stuck with the volunteer program for 20 years, beginning with the reserve academy in December 1990, and finishing last Saturday as a Level 1 officer, the highest rank a volunteer can earn.
“It’s fun,” he said. “You’re more aware of what the community involves, totally. You’re not walking around with rose-colored glasses.”
Each day is different, he said.
“Some nights, you’d be bored to tears,” he said. “Other nights you wouldn’t know if you’d have time to go back and write your reports.”
No two calls were exactly the same either, he said. Each “loud party call” or bar fight was different.
Because of that, he says, he has a lot of interesting stories to tell.
One night, he went to a bar fight at the J.A. Michaels, which has since closed.
“The two combatants were talking to the officers, and I was on the fringe,” he said.
Two bouncers walked to the scene with a third man, apparently not involved in the fight. They pointed to him and said, “It’s this guy right here,” Baillie remembers.
Before the officers had time to figure out what the bouncers meant, the man broke free and started running away.
Baillie ran after him and caught him.
“It turned out he had felony warrants from the U.S. Marshals,” Baillie said. “A misdemeanor fight can turn into a felony arrest sometimes. That’s the reason the patrol work is so interesting.”
The training, which involves mock shootouts and high-speed chases, is also fun, he said.
A self-described “gun nut,” Baillie found it “really fun poking holes in paper,” especially when the Port Orchard Police Department paid the bill for his ammunition.
He has also enjoyed the department’s mock shootouts with paint cartridges, rather than bullets.
“Those are shot at people,” police Chief Alan Townsend said. “Bad guys and good guys have those guns, so they have a live scenario.”
The police department hopes to train a capable volunteer force, to help keep the department strong through the down economy.
“During these economic times, we’re looking for ways to make the most of the money we have,” Townsend said. “Our full-time guys appreciate the help. It’s really nice to have that
extra body riding in the car.”
Baillie was one of eight volunteers with the department.
“He’s been a solid performer for our agency,” Townsend said. “He’s done a great job. I’m sorry to see him go. He’s someone who was doing this for the right reasons.”
Baillie feels like he has made a positive difference in the community through his volunteer work.
“It’s less about writing traffic tickets, and it’s more about helping people,” he said.
He’s retiring to spend more time with his father, who has had health problems following open-heart surgery.
The decision was bitter-sweet, he says.
“The day I stopped to turn my stuff in, there was a burglary call that came out, and everyone bailed out of the office,” he said. “One of the gals down there was saying, ‘I want to go too,’ and I know the feeling.
“I wanted to see what I could do about catching the burglar.”