I’m on my seventh week of my local police Citizens Academy. It’s been interesting just learning more about my community reflected by the crime that occurs inside its boundaries. The good news is we have only about ten bonafide gang members. This information was useful as I wash bedding and rugs at a launderette next to the where the gang members live. I’ll still use that laundry, but I‘ll be a little more observant of my fellow washers.
Our SWAT team rarely is called out – they do much more training practice than actual SWAT incidences. We’ve discussed the hostage negotiation team and how officers try to talk people down in high stress situations or suicide prevention, and even in serving search warrants which can quickly go south..
In a prior class we had a presentation on programs in our locals schools that the police have to promote good parenting, reduce truancy and crime, and be a friendly law enforcement face to students. In a different session we were educated on narcotics and I was blown away by how horribly methamphetamine ages a user, besides all the other nasty stuff the drug does to your body. Now I know what to look for if I’m wondering if someone is a user of that particular drug.
Last night I was killed in action.....We spent time on the police simulator. Before the simulator started, I was given an empty gun that clicks, a Taser, and pepper spray and instructed on their use. I was told that I was a police officer that came upon an alley where two men were arguing and it was just around the corner from a bank ATM. Then the video started... I asked the men to back-off and let's try to settle the conversation peacefully. Can you tell I'm an author? Too many words and not enough action....All of a sudden the one man turned toward me firing a gun through his sweatshirt pocket. Instead of ducking behind a barrier, I stood full frontal at the shooter while firing the taser that I didn't turn on. Yep, I was dead. I should have used the gun instead of the taser and if I was going to use the taser, I needed to turn in on. Whoops. I think I died the quickest among my academy classmates. I then had to tell the instructor “what I saw”, “what I did”, and “why did I do it”? It was a great exercise in your own personal decision making when you have adrenaline coursing through your veins. To be sure I don't play video games and perhaps my decision making would have been better if I had some prior practice, but I probably still would have gotten killed.
So far, I haven’t learned of anything to be used in the current books I’m writing in part because nothing is related to forensic pathology (Jill Quint, MD) or cold cases (Damian Green series). I am learning new respect for law enforcement and I'm glad of the thin blue line that stands between me and the crooks. It's been a very informative class and I would encourage everyone to attend their own Citizens Police Academy in their home town.