Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I attended the Citizens Police Academy...and had a ball

So....writers can get excited about weird things.

The average person might have no interest in sitting in their local Police Department for an entire day learning about what the guys and gals in blue do every day.

I am not one of those people.

I was thrilled to take part in my town's Citizens Police Academy recently.

It was awesome.
It was very organized and ran on time. ( I love things that happen on time!)

I knew we were in for a good time when the Captain said we had to start off with "power rings".

Power rings are donuts.

That sense of gentle, self-deprecating humor set the tone for what prevailed throughout the day.

Even more impressive than the power rings was the one inch binder that was FILLED with all sorts of useful information.

(Have I mentioned yet that I thought that this event was better run than most conferences I've spent a small fortune on? It was, in terms of organization and value.)

So what was covered? A little bit of everything!

1) We got a complete tour of the facility, from the interrogation rooms, to the holding cells (where I felt it necessary to go behind a half-wall to get a look at the toilet/sink combo), to going into the dispatch room and watching the little blue GPS dots move around the computer screen indicating where all the police cars were.

2) There was  a lesson on the history of the department which I must admit was more interesting than I'd anticipated.

3) We got a lesson about what it's like being a Patrol Officer and how the department runs its Field Training program for newly hired officers -- it involves A LOT of paperwork!

4) We learned about the School Resource Officers. I found this to be a bit depressing since the role of the Resource Officers has changed so much as the dangers at schools have increased.

5) We got a lesson about Scams & Frauds -- lots of resources in the provided notebook about that!

So that was the morning session. I point that out because I think it's a testament to the planning that the "classroom" topics were in the morning when everyone was fresh.

In the afternoon things became more interactive.

6) Traffic stops -- where I volunteered and got to strap on a fake gun, and actually turn on the lights and siren of a real police car!!!!!!!  (I was as excited as a little kid, lol)

We ran a bunch of simulated traffic stops. (Dorky, excited me volunteered to be one of the cops!)

7) DUI  -- They had these really cool goggles that simulated what a person's vision is like if they're blowing a 2.0.  We all had a good laugh as everyone stumbled around trying to walk in a straight line, but it drove home how scary it is that drunk drivers are on the road.

8) Eye Witness Accounts -- A detective came in and gave us a lesson about how inaccurate and incomplete the accounts are, by having someone else come in and steal something while we were watching.  It's amazing any crimes are ever solved.

9) Taser Demo -- (I did not volunteer for this one.) They didn't really taser anyone, just a pressboard cut out, but it was interesting to watch and I learned interesting stuff about tasers.

10) K-9 Demo -- The demo was interesting, but the officer's story about he'd lost his last dog in the line of duty was heartbreaking.

11) Narcotics -- This was partially covered in the morning since we could smell pot during the tour since a big bust had been made and the building reeked of it.

So, as you can see, considering it was an 8 hour day, a lot of material was covered.

I learned a lot to use in my own writing and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Tell me Killer Friends: Have you ever done a Citizens Police Academy? Would you want to?


B.E. Sanderson said...

Wow. That sounds like an awesome day. And if you're a dork, so am I. I would've totally volunteered. I'd do something like that if they had it around here, and I could be certain it wasn't being taught by Barney Fife. (I've met too many small town officers who emulated good ol' Barney.)

Karyn Good said...

It's sounds like you had a wonderful and insightful day! I'm glad you were able to come away with useful information. I think it's great that police departments run these types of programs and people can better understand what they do and how they do it. I've printed off a application to attend my city's version which is actually a course and runs for 11 weeks. Gulp. You have to be accepted to participate. So...we'll see.

jblynn said...

B.E. -- Maybe local Barney would make for an interesting character.

Karyn -- Good luck! The one I went to needed pre-approval, including a background check, too.

B.E. Sanderson said...

LOL, probably. I actually haven't seen many police officers here. I hardly ever see them on the road and only occasionally see one in the stores. Some of the ones I met long ago became fodder for characters in Accidental Death and Dying Embers. ;o)