Some of you may be surprised to know that I am taking a 9 week course in my town that is a Citizen Police Academy. No, this doesn’t mean I will walk around with a gun or even a taser when I’m done. But it is giving me a close up perspective on what the women and men do on my city police force.
The idea behind this Academy is to build community between the citizens and the police department. Of course, the folks who show up for the course aren’t necessarily the ones they need to preach to–we are their choir already. But we’re also tax payers and some of us are future police officers, and it’s a good show they put on.
They give us all the bells and whistles; or at least dogs and flash bombs. Every section of their department gives a presentation from the marine unit to the SWAT team to dog officers. We’re up close and personal with equipment, loud noises…and maybe not too close to the German Shepards. Not only do they present the history of this department, but of how certain units came to be initially; like SWAT units started during the race riots in the 60’s.
Having been a paramedic I’m used to working near the police, so some of the stuff is familiar. But I admit, this is a medium city and this department has some pretty big advantages. This also means different types (and more) crime. In some ways being in the class gives me the willies knowing what goes on around me, like the gang violence for instance. Who knew they are high school kids? But in other ways in is comforting to know these people are quite dedicated to serve and protect in some extremely dangerous situations.
An interesting thing I have noted is how many women work in this department; the Chief is currently a woman and one Assistance Chief too. Even one of the SWAT members is and the program is incredibly rigorous. It’s also a very culturally ethnic department.
This department does other community events like Coffee with A Cop where they meet the public at none other than Dunkin’ Donuts just to have open dialogue. Not a bad idea in these troubling times.
We get to sign up for two ride-alongs with an officer on duty. I’m looking forward to that one. Hopefully I’ll get some action that night. Maybe we’ll catch some bad guys? It might bring me back to my ambulance days…sigh. One (silly) man asked if he could bring his gun that night if he had a concealed weapon license; the answer was a resounding NO. Really?!
Anyway, a lot of effort goes into this course, and I know it’s really a bunch of PR for them, but they do have a hard job. My cop friends would tell me over and over that all they saw was bad stuff and bad people. It got old for them and some were pretty bitter. Maybe this is a way for these guys to do something good for a change? And to get a good rap for once? It’s not an easy job by any means; trying uphold the law when there’s so much negative stuff in our world these days. I don’t envy them.
And some of these Officers do this stuff on a voluntary basis simply because they love what they do and are committed to it. There are certain teams (like SWAT) that are voluntary to be on call until you’re called. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. And yet they train constantly! These Officers were not folks I would want to meet up with at any time! Yikes.
So, I’m learning some interesting and new things. And trying to look with an open perspective. Even though there are some police that don’t exercise good judgement , I wonder what it would like without any of them?