It finally started Thursday. The much-anticipated citizen police academy.
We were welcomed by Police Chief Tim Murphy and Deputy Police Chief Tim Scott.
The class includes four men and three women, one of whom is yours truly and another is our news reporter Katrina Goforth.
We listened to a description on the structure of our local department, some of their duties and how much they must learn and practice before they are allowed to do their job.
They also described a few fun things we might be doing, like driving fast cars on a track or shooting at the range.
But that will be another story.
For now, something that is very obvious is the highly stressful and fast-paced environment in their 911 call center. Often they are handling hundreds of calls and sending help to people who desperately need some support. Makes me think that all the police, fire and rescue emergency responders should have a bumper sticker that says “have you hugged your dispatcher today?”
The patrol officer might be the first line of defense and the law enforcement ambassador to the community, while the dispatcher would be the link back for more help, should the need arise.
We also caught a glimpse of some bleary eyed investigators working on a high-interest local case, the results of which were announced in this edition.
I understand a little bit about working overtime. I’ve served my country, but not as a police officer. I know that there are many differences, but there might be a little bit in common with the military.
Sometimes we would practice how to work with no sleep on four-day exercises so that we were able to that in war, should the need arise. At first it’s relatively easy. Just some normal fatigue over the first day, then kind of gutting it out the second day. The third day exhaustion really sets in and by the fourth day we began to get a little punchy, laughing at things that weren’t funny.
The personality also changes when one becomes tired. It’s easier for me to get angry or upset when I’m tired and later, when fighting through exhaustion there are physical dangers I had to recognize, such as inadvertently walking in front of a large truck, armored vehicle or tank.
We met some investigators with the police department our first night and I saw that look in their eyes.
All the law enforcement officers share that requirement. With every 10 minutes on the local beat there might be an hour or two of paperwork.
But this look from these investigators was a level of managed exhaustion with a purpose in mind to complete some very important detective work.
And they did. Friday evening they announced a break in the case with some arrest warrants and they’re not done yet.
Like many of the military intelligence specialists who are working behind the scenes during peacetime with an intensity some would describe as wartime, many of these law enforcement officers are tirelessly chasing down every lead in a case with the hope that something pans out.
Although they can’t tell us much now due to the nature of the investigation, it is going to be interesting to watch this play out in the local courts.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 580-482-1221, ext 2072.