I thought I'd give an update on our last few sessions of Citizen's Police Academy, now that we are halfway through. I'll start with this. At the end of the last class, the officer said, "Next week we're going to learn about tasers. Anyone willing to volunteer to be tasered? How about you, Matt?"
And Matt said, "Yea, sure, I'll do it."
I whispered to him, "Are you crazy? Why would you want to be tasered?" and he said, "Think about it. What other time in your life will you ever be shot with a taser?"
Well, my goal is hopefully never.
The topic last week was use of force, and our speaker was an officer who was shot in the line of duty in 2008 trying to protect a family during a domestic dispute. He recovered from his injury, still works for our police department, and was promoted to detective a few years later, but the incident still affects him. He shared the circumstances of that night and then played the dispatch recording, and his fellow officers suddenly shouting "Shots fired! Shots fired! Officer shot! Officer down! We need an ambulance!" To listen to that recording while the officer who was shot was standing in front of all us still wearing that badge was sobering.
Two weeks ago, the class focused on the K-9 units.
There are five K-9 units in the department, but the pair that came to class was the first female officer and first female canine. Learning about the training and what it takes to become a K-9 unit was fascinating. The dog was imported from the Netherlands as a puppy, has been by her handler's side every minute of every day since, runs 30 miles per hour, can locate the scent of 19 different drugs, explosive material, and just that week she had been taken out to a bank robbery and located a pair of headphones that the suspect had thrown a few blocks away from the bank.
We got to see exactly how strong the dog was when another officer came out wearing a thick sleeve on his arm and canine handler sent the dog after him.
She locked her jaw on his arm and did not let go, until her officer yelled BREAK. As soon as she said it, the dog immediately released his arm and ran right back to her. I spent the rest of the night wondering why any criminal would continue to put up a fight after hearing an officer say, "I'm sending in my dog!"
And then, star student Matt was selected to play tug of war with the dog. He said that even on the tile floor, where she had no grip and was sliding around, she was incredibly strong.
The week before that was traffic safety which I found to be kind of a snoozer but Matt loved. I was not at all surprised because as he drives around town he gives out hypothetical moving violations to fellow motorists.
"That Camry didn't signal their lane change."
"Not supposed to turn left across a double yellow, sir."
"Wipers on? Lights on."
What I did find incredibly terrifying was the number of trucks and tractor trailers JUST IN OUR TOWN that are taken off the road each year because their mechanical and/or structural deficiencies are so significant they are not safe to drive one more mile.
That was all I could think about as I drove to work the next morning, and I am here to tell you I spent all 12 miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike trying to get away from the trucks.
It meant a lot of lane changing, but don't worry, I signaled every time.