Although volunteer participation in meeting the public safety needs of the community has been a long-standing tradition of civilization, Don Haidl has taken it to a new level. With over 15 years service as a volunteer reserve law enforcement officer, he had come to the conclusion that while the existing benefits to the community were commendable, more could be attained.
The depth of Haidl’s convictions and commitment to this concept was demonstrated in January 1999 when he accepted the responsibility of the uncompensated position of Assistant Sheriff at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and was tasked with managing that department’s Reserve Division. Although directly involved in the management of a national corporation, Haidl has, for the past two years, committed between 30 and 50 hours per week to Sheriff’s Department operations.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is committed to providing a safe environment for all residents, businesses, and visitors; but as with any governmental entity, it must do so both effectively and efficiently. The members of the Reserve Division under Haidl’s direction have contributed significantly to the department’s ability to fulfill this commitment. Members of the eight specialized units under Haidl’s direction have logged more than 70,000 hours of service assisting the Sheriff’s Department in meeting the law enforcement needs of Orange County. These services would otherwise have cost taxpayers $3 million in salaries. This could not have been attained without Haidl’s planning, prioritizing and goal setting. His success in this endeavor is evidenced by that fact that over the past two years, the number of volunteer members in the Reserve Division has doubled.
Other units have seen similar increases in them membership also as a result of his dedication. This enables them to provide more support to departmental operations. The Uniformed Patrol unit augments the traditional law enforcement operational functions and provides security at major events. The Search and Rescue Unit is operationally active on an almost weekly basis. The Investigative Unit completes background checks for regular and reserve applicants. The Harbor Reserve Unit works with departmental personnel at three county harbors, the Administrative Unit handles recruiting, processing and testing.
Haidl designed and implemented an innovative Professional Services Reserve Unit. This program works as a mechanism through which law enforcement can avail itself of knowledge and experience professionals in highly technical and sophisticated fields have attained. This unit alone is comprised of about 200 members. These are experts in the area of law, medicine, finances, computer technology, arts and training who volunteer their expertise to assist the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in effectively incorporating cutting-edge technology and concepts into its operations to better serve the public. This program has been so successful that it has been duplicated in four other counties within the state.