Week 4 of a citizen’s police academy

Welcome to the Week 4 summary of a 10-week citizen’s police academy. I’m sharing some of the information I’m learning to show how great these (usually) free academies are for mystery writers.

It’s a sure way to gather information and a great way to make contacts in a local department. So when you have questions for a work-in-progress, you can streamline cold calling and Internet research.

The 4th week of this academy focused on Patrol Operations, including cruiser setup, use of force, and shoot/don’t shoot scenarios.

Officers at this PD are on 12-hour shifts, and unlike office jobs, officers can’t show up and punch in or out on the hour. They need to be onsite at least 15 minutes before start and end of shift.

The extra time for those coming on shift is to change into uniform and to be available 15 minutes before shift start if a call comes in. Officers coming off shift stay in uniform until the end of their shift. This guarantees coverage for calls that come in at shift change in a streamlined manner.

Can you imagine the chaos if a call came in and officers didn’t arrive until the exact start of shift, had to get into uniform, get their gear, keys, and in the car before responding? And at the same time, the prior shift was changing out of uniform and still had to evaluate their vehicles and supplies?

The extra time allows officers ending their 12 hours to return the patrol car, clean it, and stock it for the next shift. And it allows the new shift to confirm that everything needed is working or where it needs to be.

Some examples of what I mean (not a complete list):

  • Make sure cruiser bag (similar to an oversized briefcase) has all necessary inventory, such as forms, ticket book, flashlights, pamphlets, and so on.
  • Make sure mobile radio is in the car and functional, computer is operational, and all lights and sirens work
  • Verify first aid kid is properly stocked and AED is present
  • Confirm that items such as blanket, shotgun, rifle, road flares, traffic vest, chalk, digital cameras, and criminal code books are in the car
  • Make sure at least 2 stuffed animals are available in case a child needs one during the shift
  • Make sure dog leashes are on hand

As officers come on shift, they attend roll call and get caught up on what has happened since they were last on shift. They get special assignments, such as if there is a need for a particular area to be canvassed due to noise or speed complaints. Or perhaps they need to serve subpoenas.

Each officer is on a team and has a regular route to patrol. There are residential areas and business areas to cover. Officers could perform various types of inspections while on shift and do physical checks of businesses. During a shift they could respond to a scene for emergency services or other non-criminal related calls. They could direct traffic. They could be filling out paperwork for any of these activities.

Some definitions related to use of force:

  • Deadly force – techniques used can create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury
  • Non-deadly force – techniques used to control the person
  • Serious bodily injury – techniques used that can cause severe and/or permanent harm
  • Reasonable belief – facts or circumstances the officer knows about person or situation (i.e. if person has escaped scene with a weapon, there’s reasonable belief that the person could turn the weapon on the officer)
  • Asp – is an expandable baton that is used as an impact weapon, it can definitely break a bone, and the sound of it expanding is sometimes enough to get a person to stop moving
  • OC spray – oleoresin capsicum spray is similar to pepper spray and can be used to subdue a person (you don’t want to be downwind when spraying it at someone, as you could end up with the burning eyes and throat!)

A few officers also role played some scenarios and asked us (the class) which ones we thought would require deadly force, non-deadly force, or at least serious injury. The different perspectives were enlightening.

I could write more, but this is a good example of Week 4 information.

On a separate note: I hope everyone along the east coast is weathering Hurricane Sandy (pun intended) without too much pain. She’s throwing quite a fit!

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About Lisa Haselton

Lisa Haselton has had several short mystery stories published and has a couple of novels in various stages of completion. She always enjoys learning new tidbits about other writers, and takes great pride as an editor when working with writers on polishing their manuscripts. She's living a life around her passions for writing, photography, volunteering, and anything related to New England, particularly New Hampshire.
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2 Responses to Week 4 of a citizen’s police academy

  1. Great post, Lisa, and you’ve got me wondering about those shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, too.

  2. Lisa Jackson says:

    I could write several posts on the shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. Situations can change in a second. The officers shared a couple real-life examples and then acted out a couple scenarios. Great fodder for creating high-tension scenes in novels or stories. I learned too, that if you’re within 12 feet of the bad guy and he (or she) is running toward you, you probably won’t have time to get your gun out and shoot it before the person is on top of you. So those seconds are better spent coming up with other options for defense.

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