Not ready to fully retire from law enforcement, master reserve officers thrive at the Tustin Police Department


Police officers are no strangers to a fast-paced and ever-changing work environment.

Due to the nature of the job, it comes as no surprise that even though an officer retires, he or she may not be fully ready to walk away from the job.

“I want to continue in law enforcement because I’m not ready to just completely retire,” said Master Reserve Officer Pam Hardacre of the Tustin PD. “I want to serve. I’m still young.”

For those who aren’t quite ready to fully cut ties with their careers in law enforcement, the Tustin Police Department’s master reserve officer (MRO) program provides the perfect transition.

Tustin’s MROs have honorably retired from their full-time law enforcement career, but remain involved in the profession as a part-time police officer.

MROs work a variety of details at the agency.

Some work the front desk, some are in investigations, some work in professional standards, some work in traffic, and some assist with special events.

“The point of the master reserve program is to fill a slot, and I’m not talking about just a job position, I’m talking about a hole,” said Sgt. Matt Nunley, who oversees the master reserve program at the TPD. “Over a career that spans into retirement, you’ll do a lot of different things. So for them to come over here and bring that expertise, it’s a huge benefit for our department.”

Master Reserve Officer Pam Hardacre. Photo courtesy of the Tustin Police Department

Anywhere there’s a need for a master reserve, the TPD is willing to put one there.

In addition to providing a transition into full retirement, the benefits of working as a MRO for the Tustin PD make the job enticing. 

Master reserves work part-time (up to 960 hours a year) and it pays well (over $35 per hour). 

Because MROs come to the department with years of experience under their belt, they provide a valuable asset to Tustin: their institutional knowledge.  

“In the 27 years that I worked for Anaheim, I was able to work a lot of amazing details,” Master Reserve Officer Kathleen Helmick said. “Not that I’m an expert, but I have developed a little bit of expertise and I still want to help the community as best I can.”

The backgrounds of Tustin’s master reserve officers span from working forgery to burglaries to undercover to domestic violence, and even to going after stalkers, terrorists, and child abusers, just to name a few.

Hardacre was a full-time officer at the TPD and worked sexual assault cases prior to retiring.

Now working the front counter at the department, her background is extremely useful when people come in to report a sexual assault.


“You never know who’s going to come up to the front counter,” Hardacre said.

Master Reserve Officer Pam Hardacre. Photo courtesy of the Tustin Police Department

MROs can work for the Tustin PD for up to three years. If they want to continue to work after that, they can request a one-year extension.

“Your master reserves are good for bridging that gap while you get your retirees off to their next career and you bring the new guys on,” Helmick said.

Once an applicant applies to be a MRO, the department will do a full background investigation. Once they clear backgrounds, applicants are interviewed by the chief and they need to pass a modified medical and psych evaluation. Since MROs carry firearms, they also need to qualify in department firearms training.

“It’s a great program; I’m always recruiting, and it keeps me busy,” Master Reserve Officer Nasario Solis said. “I just really enjoy working here. It’s different than the other agencies that I’ve worked at and there isn’t a day that goes by without someone thanking me for being here and helping out.”

The Tustin PD currently has five master reserve officers, but is always looking for new talent to join its team.

“I highly recommend applying; It’s the best thing I did because it’s the best of both worlds,” Helmick said. “We’re still doing the job that we love and still making a difference in society, helping as many people as (we) can, but on a part-time basis.”

Interested law enforcement professionals with questions about the Tustin Police Department’s master reserve officer program or want to know how to apply, please call Sgt. Matt Nunley at 714-573-3285.