I served as a Reserve deputy sheriff from February 2000 to February 2002. It all started when I was a police officer at the Costa Mesa Police Department, and also one fourth owner of the training organization HSS International. I was burning the candle at both ends, and I could no longer be a full time cop and teach around the world at the same time. One of my tactical students, Reserve Lieutenant Pam Peters, knew that I wanted to teach full time and become a Reserve law enforcement officer, and she told my about the Orange County Sheriff's Department Reserve Program.
On March 22, 2000 I was sworn in as a Level 1 Reserve Deputy by Sheriff Mike Carona, giving me full police powers as described in California Penal Code Section 830.1, assigned to the Search & Rescue Unit (SRRU). I was once again a lawman, and this time wearing a six pointed star instead of a shield. Two months later full-time Sergeant Wilfred Moreno (the sergenat in charge of the Reserve Division) asked me, more like told me, to be on the new Dignitary Protection Unit (DPU) authorized by Sheriff Carona. On June 13, 2000 I was promoted to the rank of sergeant and assigned as the Team Leader of the unit. I also had the duty of Patrol Supervisor for the Uniform Patrol Reserve Unit (UPRU), Squad 4, or the city of Lake Forest, California.
The commander of the Dignitary Protection Unit was Captain Oliver Wes (Reserve). The men serving under me on the team were: Deputy R. Dixon, Deputy J. Poon, Deputy J. Powell, Deputy M. Sokol, and Deputy J. Wright.
My responsibilities as the Team Leader of the Dignitary Protection Unit included:
1. Control the movement of the close protection team.
2. Assign and control of agents at fixed posts.
3. Liaison when multiple agencies involved.
4. Training of agents (defensive tactics, tactics, and firearms)
The overall commander of the Dignitary Protection Team (DPU) was Lieutenant Willie Moreno. The Detail Leader was Captain John Hensley (Reserve) with Assistant Detail Leader Lieutenant Simon Semann (Reserve). Sergeant Jim Wagner was the Team Leader. Reserve Deputies on the team included: B. Ballentine, R. Barton, L. Bauer, M. Beekman, D. Edgar, J. Kirkham, J. Lai, K. Moyer, D. Sherman, R. Martin, and J. Wharrie.
On August 30, 2001 I was the Shift Leader of the Dignitary Protection Unit and on Gold Team during the operation, tasked to protect the newly appointed United States Treasurer Rosario Marin. She had been appointed by President George W. Bush, and she was the highest ranking Hispanic in the Bush administration. I, and my team, provided protected for the Treasurer at The Latino Coalition Foundation Networking Lunch Reception held at the Santa Ana Performing Arts & Event Center in Santa Ana, California. The Detail Leader was Captain John Hensley (Reserve), and overall control was under Lieutenant Wilfred Moreno. At the same time Captain Hensley was serving as the Commission Chairman on the Gambling Control Commission for the State of California.
Members of the detail included: Gold Team: Sergeant J. Kirkham (agent), Red Team: Investigator D. Sherman (Team Leader), Investigator B. Ballentine (agent), Sergeant J. Wharrie (driver), Blue Team: Investigator L. Bauer (Team Leader), Yellow Team: Sergeant M. Beekman (Team Leader), Deputy D. Williams (driver), Black Team: Investigator R. Barton (Team Leader), Deputy A. McDevitt (Uniform Site Security), Deputy J. Lai (Uniform Site Security), Deputy R. Martin (Sign-in desk detail/Lobby Site Secuirty), Deputy T. summers (V.I.P. Room Site Security).
For this event my responsibilities were to do the Advance (collect tactical information on the facility and do employee checks before the event), assign agents to the perimeter (Site Security) and the principals (Close Protection). I was also responsible for the safety of Hector Barreto, Small Business Administration, Gaddi Vasquez, Director of Peace Corps (Nominee), Miguel Pulido, International Policy Advisory Committee on Trade, and Ruben Barrales, Deputy Assistant to the President; Director of Intergovernmental Affairs (The White House), Sheriff Lee Baca (Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office), Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl, Dr. Tirso de Junco, and 250 guests.
After the attacks of 9/11 the Orange County Sheriff’s Department believed that Sheriff Michael S. Carona was at risk since he was the highest law enforcement official of Orange County, California. I was assigned as the Team Leader to protect the Sheriff at the CRISIS MANAGEMENT! ARE YOU PREPARED? luncheon at the Irvine Marriott hotel on November 1, 2001. Since I was in charge of overall site security I was also responsible for the other principals at the event: Stephen Steinhausser, Assistant Special Agent In Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Chip Prather, Orange County Fire Authority Chief. This event was to educate the Institute of Real Estate Management, the owners of Orange County’s skyscrapers, how to be prepared for a terrorist attack.
Members on this detail included Deputy R. Martin, Deputy J. Lai, and Deputy D. Sherman.
On September 1, 2001 I arranged for Avi Nardia of the Israel Police (also a major in the Israel Defense Force) to teach Israeli close protection techniques for the Orange County Sheriff’s Dignitary Protection Unit.
Avi Nardia had invited me to teach knife defense and S.W.A.T. Combatives to the instructors of the municipal police and Border Police at the Israel Police Operational Fitness Academy at Havatselet Hasharon, Israel on April 30, 2001.
For the excellent job that Avi Nardia did for the DPU, I presented him with a Letter of Appreciation.
On December 31, 2001 Sergeant Jim Wagner was in charge of providing close protection for Sheriff Corona for the Blenheim Farms New Year Two Thousand Two celebration. A one-man detail was requested and Sergeant Wagner assigned Sergeant J. Kirkham.
On January 5, 2002 Sergeant Jim Wagner was assigned by Lieutenant Willie Moreno and Captain John Hensley (Reserve), along with two other agents, to protect United States Treasurer Rosario Marin at the Presidential Town Hall. This was a speaking engagement by President George W. Bush at the Ontario Convention Center sponsored by the Latino Coalition Foundation and other Hispanic political organizations.
For Sergeant Wagner it was an opportunity to see, up close, the president of the United States.
During Sergeant Wagner's two years with the Orange County Sheriff's Department Reserve Division his full-time job was training police and military units throughout the world through his own training company. Sergeant Wagner had the opportunity to instruct several Close Protection courses to personnel from the following agencies:
Drug Enforcement Administration
U.S. Marine Corps
Department of State Diplomatic Security Service
United States Secret Service (Basic Sniper Course)
After the Al Qaeda terroirst attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 Jim Wagner applied for the position of United States Federal Air Marshal. On January 28, 2002 Sergeant Wagner turned in his Letter of Resignation to his chain-of-command, effective for February 28, 2002, stating in it, "I have decided to pursue my law enforcement career with the Federal government, and I know under such circumstances that I will receive the full support of this department." The department did indeed give its full support to Sergeant Jim Wagner with a spotless record and plenty of letters of appreciations left behind for the background investigators of the United States government to comb through. In March Jim Wagner was offered a position with the United States Federal Air Marshal Service.
Copyright Jim Wagner 1980 - 2023 All rights reserved.