Back in November ’21, I graduated from a 9 week Citizen Police Academy (CPA) course held by the Memphis Police Department at my local precinct. It was a blast, I learned a lot, made some new friends, and it was my first “real” adventure out with strangers since the pandemic hit. It was also very beneficial for me since I began a Neighborhood Watch program on my street right as the pandemic was first beginning.
A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through the ole book of faces and saw a post announcing an upcoming CPA course being held at the Bartlett PD, which is a neighboring city that edges up against three sides of Memphis and has a very stout reputation for being upholders of the law. (Seriously, everyone I know KNOWS not to speed down Stage Blvd, or you WILL become the proud owner of a speeding ticket issued by the BPD.) Not only was this course starting soon, but I saw that one of the features of the course was getting to shoot guns at the gun range. WHAT?! We didn’t get to do ANYTHING near as cool as that during the Memphis CPA. I commented on the post, saying how jealous I was, having recently graduated from Memphis CPA and not getting to do anything THAT cool during our course, and asked if a Memphis resident could partake of the Bartlett course as well. I was met with, “Send in an app and see.” OK, bet.
I got accepted.
Memphis’ CPA is a 9 week course, meeting once a week at your local precinct for 2 hours every Thursday evening. Bartlett’s condenses theirs down to 6 weeks, at 3 hours every Thursday evening. I was ecstatic, and having gone through Memphis’ version, knew this would be a walk in the park.
5:45 pm, Night 1. My illusion of “a walk in the park” was tainted when I walked in 15 minutes early and the entire classroom was full, with the exception of a few seats AT THE VERY FRONT….great. I took my name plate they had made for me and made my way from the back of the room to the front and sat down. A few minutes later another lady joined me at my table. Just like high school all over again. One of the local police ladies was at the front holding polite conversation with all of us and generally breaking the ice.
6:00 pm, ON. THE. DOT. BANG!! BANG!!! BANG!!! BANG!!! BANG!!! BANG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! “ATTENTION RECRUITS!!!!!!!!!!” and I don’t remember the rest of what he said because I was too busy trying to keep from shitting my pants and looking like I was calm, cool and collected. Captain Todd Halford was clanging a metal trashcan with his baton as he walked from the back of the room, right up the middle of our tables, yelling as loudly as I have had the pleasure of being yelled at in YEARS, effectively shattering my illusion we were going for ANY walks in the parks with this course.
After a quick intro, which included a really cool slide of all his pets (from a pot-bellied pig to a chicken) he immediately got down to business. I could tell my time during the Memphis CPA did NOT prepare me for what Bartlett is offering up, not by a LONG shot. (To be fair, we were still in pandemic mode, so I figure that played a huge role with what we were able to really do, but we DID learn a ton, and met a LOT of fascinating folks through that program. They also fed us dinner every week, whereas Bartlett had fresh donuts and coffee at the ready..no, really.)
We each had, at our desks, a lil welcome packet of cool BPD items, ranging from a koozie to a keychain, along with a 3 ring binder full of info and our course agenda. Tonight’s agenda included class orientation, a building tour, and DUI Investigations. What they DIDN’T tell us was we were going to have to do interactive exercises. I now know why I’d been having nightmares of going back to high school all over again leading up to this course. There were even lockers involved this evening during the tour.
The tour was probably my favorite part. We saw everything from the dispatch room (which houses dispatch for the entire city of Bartlett including Fire, PD and Ambulance, as well as animal control), the detective center (which y’all, had a beautiful wooden backdrop behind the receptionist desk and smelled like testosterone from the moment we walked through the doors and had me looking for Hank Voight from Chicago P.D.), the lab (nothing near as cool as anything on those C.S.I. shows but still pretty cool), and, to top it all off, we got to go through the strip down room (no one was stripped down, but we DID get to see the lil bundle of gifts each person gets upon arrival, shew) and then get locked in a jail cell. Imagine an entire group of middle class citizens standing shoulder to shoulder staring at each other in this tiny jail cell when all of a sudden, we hear, “click”…they closed the door on us. I am SUPER claustrophobic, but managed to keep it together.
Classroom time had us participating in suspected DUI activities from walking the line to doing an eye twitch exercise with our desk partners. Captain Halford has been in this line of work long enough to know the ins and outs without help of any notes, and his delivery of all the information he presented that night was genuinely unforgettable. I liken him to what I imagine Garth Brooks would be if he were a police officer. Enthusiastic, passionate, knowledgeable and has a true calling in this field. At times, he would yell in someone’s face an answer to a question, but his delivery of said “yelling” was never ill intended, but rather had us all giggling and thanking God we weren’t in a real police recruit training class. Plop a cowboy hat on Captain Halford, and I swear he would look just like Garth. I mean that in the best and most complimentary way possible.
We had a couple breaks throughout, and even got to go outside and put hands on one of their fleet cars. My initial observation were their cars are in a LOT better shape than the Memphis Police Department’s fleet cars are in. When I voiced that out loud, I learned they get assigned a car and get to drive it home, whereas Memphis rotates a new driver every shift (four shifts) continuously every 24 hours. No wonder.
Here’s what’s coming up as we go through the rest of the course.
Week 2: Narcotics and Criminal Profiling
Week 3: Radar/Traffic, Crisis Intervention and K-9 (they have a new K-9 puppy I’m hoping they bring to class!)
Week 4: Communications and Traffic Stops (we were told to wear comfy shoes that day.)
Week 5: Defensive Tactics (FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!! (We were told to wear comfy clothes that day)
Week 6: Crime Scene Processing and SWAT (we were told to wear black clothes that day because we are gonna be dusting a “crime scene that day)
Field Day: BFD Training Facility where we get to participate in a pursuit course and shoot guns at the firing range
I’ll share my experience each week, so make sure you come back here to see what (mis)adventures I get myself into. I didn’t share anything of my time with the Memphis CPA course because it was something I wanted to go through on a personal level. However, with the amount of interest my going through that course generated amongst folks, I knew a weekly blog post would be in order this go ’round. I thought it would be fun to include some photos from my time with the Memphis Citizen Police Academy for y’all to enjoy.
I completed an 8 hour ride-along with Officer Henry during the Memphis CPA course, where, amongst the many calls we got, we showed up first to a shooting. Talk about an adrenaline rush!
This was the entire Memphis Citizen Police Academy from all the precincts across the city on graduation night. Can you find me?
Look at me, all graduating and junk. That’s the “new” Memphis Police Chief, CJ Davis, to the right (on my left)