Citizen reflects on ‘Police Academy’

Kevin Martin - Contributing - Columnist

Chief Tim Murphy and Assistant Chief Tim Scott are on a mission. Their mission is to raise awareness of the professionalism of our Altus Police Department and to tell their story to members of our community.

I have always been an advocate for, a supporter of and a raving fan of our law enforcement community. I believe that they do a largely thankless job, they rarely or never deliver good news to anyone and they spend their days interacting with people from all walks of life.

They deal a wide range of citizens — honest people, victims, as well as hard-core criminals.

A policeman’s day starts out like any other person’s day. They get up, get dressed and go to work — however their day looks and has the potential to look much different than the majority of us. They may rescue a child from a dangerous situation and I’m sure that there is immense satisfaction on these calls, however they might also have to take a life in order to protect themselves or others. Most days are likely fairly normal and predictable — relatively benign traffic stops and calls on stolen property, but interspersed into these normal days are situations that I don’t even want to imagine.

They also are involved in situations that require instant and perfect judgement — because they all know that their actions or inactions, and every step in between, will be scrutinized from every imaginable angle. I have a friend who is a police chief in another town and he once mentioned to me that I don’t even want to know some of the things he has seen. For these reasons, I have tremendous respect for the men and women of law enforcement.

I am attempting to do justice and honor to what our law enforcement officers do every day for all of us, however the great Paul Harvey has already done just that and I encourage you to do an internet search for “Paul Harvey Police” and watch or listen to the two-minute tribute. I cannot and will not attempt to compete with what I consider to be the best journalist, or certainly among the best, that I have ever seen. Mr. Harvey does an excellent job in this short segment honoring our law enforcement officers. It is well worth two minutes of your life to look it up and watch.

About a year ago, I applied for and was accepted to participate in the Altus Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy. Altus Police Chief Tim Murphy and Assistant Chief Tim Scott, along with a number of officers, put this class on in an attempt to offer the public a peek under the tent of the APD. The class covered topics ranging from the structure of the department to K-9 officers to narcotics trafficking to shoot-don’t shoot scenarios. There were sessions on gangs, patrol tactics and how crime scenes are processed.

There were several other topics and every session left me looking forward to the next. I walked away from this class with an even greater respect for our department and the men and women who do this job, an understanding of the professionalism that they expect of themselves and the extreme difficulty and danger that they face on every stop, around every corner and on every call that they make.

The APD has recently announced its second Citizens Police Academy and I certainly recommend that you apply. The class was fascinating, educational and fun. I missed three sessions due to other obligations, however it is my intent to attend the ones that I missed this time around if space allows, and like dessert, I wouldn’t go back for seconds if the first go-round wasn’t spectacular. This class has the potential to reinforce what you may believe about police work, to educate you on things that you had no idea about and I’ll be the first to say it — it is fun.

Chief Murphy and Tim Scott do not need to do this. His department is under no obligation to spend its time and resources, often after hours, teaching or telling anyone anything. Chief Murphy has decided that his department wants to extend its hand and offer anyone who is interested a walk in an officer’s shoes, a look through the eyes and a peek into the thinking and actions.

Take my word for it. Apply. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did and you might want to go back for seconds. Martin Contributing Columnist

Kevin Martin



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