Monday, February 18, 2019

To Protect and to Serve

For many people, today is a holiday. In the United States, we celebrate President's Day. In different provinces in Canada, today is either Family Day or Heritage Day. There are even some rather strange holidays celebrated today, such as Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplay Day.

Silly holidays aside, for most people this is a day to celebrate people that you hold in respect. So I'm choosing to celebrate a group of people who put their lives on the line on a daily basis: the police.

I recently attended a Citizen's Academy for my local town. Officers from the police department came and talked about what they do. They opened up on any aspect of the job that people wanted to know about and provided demonstrations on different tactics. We were even provided with the opportunity for hands-on practice sessions.

I learned how to use a Taser--on a cardboard cutout, not a real person. (Some people actually wanted to have a Taser used on them, but the officers drew the line there.) I also learned what it felt like to be handcuffed, and how they go about cuffing a person and why.

The officers were very patient with handling strange requests. For example, when I mentioned that I write novels, they answered questions about whether it's possible to unlock handcuffs with a paper clip (yes) and let me try to see if I could unlock the handcuffs with a bobby pin (nope).

This class was one of a series of classes that cover various aspects of law enforcements. There were a lot of people there, over thirty on this night. I saw people in their teens and retired couples as well as a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Several of the younger attendees mentioned that they were interested in becoming police officers themselves, but other people were simply curious.

I even got to practice shooting a Glock and a rifle. Granted, they didn't have live ammunition, but these were the training guns that the police themselves trained on. These guns shoot cartridges that contain little spots of different-colored paints, so the trainers can tell in the training sessions who was hit and where.

More importantly, the police officer who gave the gun demonstration talked about when to use a weapon, the various steps that lead up to the decision to shoot, and what the police do to try to defuse a situation before it escalates into open violence. The officers I spoke with said that most of the time, they are able to talk people down when things start to head in the wrong direction. The only encounters most people hear about are the ones on the daily news. The vast majority of the time, no one notices when a confrontational situation is defused and people's emotions are diverted into non-violent outlets.

Above all, going to this Citizen's Academy was an opportunity for me to gain some insight. It used to be, most of what I knew about police work was what I learned from watching television. Now, I have some understanding into the parts that can't be wrapped up neatly in one hour including commercial breaks.

If you're interested in attending a Citizen Academy, there might be one for your own town or county. I was surprised to learn that every city in my local area had its own academy. If you're curious about learning more about the people who protect your community, I recommend the experience!

Evelyn M. Hill is a multi-published author who lives at the end of the Oregon Trail. Her debut book, His Forgotten Fiancée, was published by Love Inspired Historical. Her latest book, The English Lieutenant's Lady, deals with British spies in the Oregon Territory (based on actual events). 
When not being distracted by her cat, she writes inspirational romances set in Oregon. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.

8 comments:

  1. Wow, what a great opportunity!! I've never heard of an academy like that around here...even though I don't write suspense, I'd still love to attend one! Thanks for sharing your experience, Evelyn!

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  2. It really was a good experience, Laurel. I recommend it!

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  3. Evelyn, I attended a Citizen's Police Academy in my town. The class was held one night a week for almost three months. I learned so much and enjoyed getting to know our wonderful law enforcement officers. In my opinion, the police are a cut above...and definitely heroes!

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  4. BTW, the Writers' Police Academy is held each year in early AUG. Registration opens FEB 24...and usually fills up within 24 hours! I've gone twice and highly recommend the event!

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  5. Sounds like an amazing experience. I would love to do something like this. Thanks so much for sharing, Evelyn.

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    1. Terri Reed first mentioned this academy to me, so I'm glad to get the opportunity to pass it on. I think all suspense writers and most other types of writers would find it useful for their stories. Plus, a lot of non-writers enjoyed it as well :)

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  6. Thank you for the shout out Evelyn. I'm glad you were able to take a citizens academy. I learned so much from taking one. I picked up on nuances of the officers that aren't in research texts. The citizens academy I took also had a wide range of attendees. I think it's something everyone should do if only to realize that police officers are humans and they have a really hard job.

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