LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When you meet Kenji Inaba, it’s easy to be impressed by his work.
He’s a trauma surgeon at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, director of the surgical ICU and in charge of their residency program.
“I look after all injured patients, anyone who’s shot, stabbed, in a car crash,” said Inaba. “I spend a fair amount of time for education for our future surgeons.”
But 16 hours per week, he’s learning to swap scrubs for a training uniform and a scalpel for a Glock.
He’s one of 13 in an LAPD recruiting class, along with lawyers and actors, training to be a reserve officer with the LAPD.
“Why is the LAPD seeing all these injured officers? It did make me specifically come here to volunteer my time,” Inaba said.
From self-defense and CPR to firearms training, he’ll receive essentially the same training as a full-time officer.
Once he completes the nine-month program, he’ll be a sworn officer able to carry a gun, a badge and have full police powers both on- and off-duty.
Lt. Darnell Davenport oversees the reserve officer training program, which includes three levels, the lowest giving administrative or office abilities to reserve officers, much like Inaba is training for.
They take about one of 100 applicants, but Davenport says they need about 1,600 additional reserves.
“The way to effectively police is to have reserve officers. Those are the officers who can staff additional cars, special events,” said Davenport. “These special events don’t deplete resources, so when you call, police respond quickly and also police other events in the city.”
Reserves are required to give at least 16 hours a month – and for Inaba, time was the biggest factor, in addition to his more than 80-hour-per-week job and time with his wife and son.
As a child, he learned judo and competed in biathlon, which combines skiing and shooting, and learned to give back.
With police officers facing tense situations, CBS2/KCAL9’s Serene Branson asked how Inaba would handle going from being hospital hero to – at least sometimes – a target.
“You’re a physician or surgeon versus police officer, context is so different, but th goal really is the same,” he said. “If we keep things in mind, overcome the differences in how we are perceived by patients or citizens out there, it really makes you feel like you can make a difference in how police interact with the community.”