I can’t believe we’ve already completed 3 weeks of this course. It’s going by so fast and I’m loving every minute of it. Last night was definitely fun. We learned about Radar/Traffic Enforcement, Crisis Intervention Training and then the highly anticipated K-9 training. Having graduated from the Memphis PD Citizens Police Academy in November, I’m still astounded at the difference in courses between the two.
Hour 1: Radar/Traffic Enforcement:
Up first was Officer Kris Brown, (that’s his real name, seriously) who was extremely knowledgeable about the topic of radar enforcement. I mean, he actually went into a full on geometry lesson talking about the Cosine effect with Doppler radar. I had to fight the urge to cry as memories of my nearly failing geometry class in high school 30+ years ago came back front and center. Here’s the breakdown:
“The Cosine effect for doppler radar units, is the reduction of registered speed by the value of the cosine of the angle between the radar unit boresight and the line the target is traveling. In other words, the displayed speed will be the actual ball speed times the cosine of the angle.”
Yep, he full on went there. Told ya.
We also learned that “the angle of the dangle matters”…ok NO, he did NOT say it like that, but my forever 14 y/o self did. What he had done SAID was, “the angle of the radar when it’s being used to detect speed DOES matter. Police microwave and laser radars measure the relative speed a vehicle is approaching, or receding, the radar. If a vehicle is traveling directly at the radar the relative speed is actual speed. If the vehicle is not traveling directly at the radar the relative speed is slightly lower than actual speed. The phenomenon is called the Cosine Effect because the measured speed is directly related to the cosine of the angle between the radar and vehicle direction of travel or speed vector. The greater the angle the greater the speed error and the lower the measured speed. A cosine angle of 90° has 100% error, speed measures zero.
There is also a type of radar called Lidar, which is commonly referred to as police laser, LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) and is the most precise speed monitoring option available to traffic enforcement officers. They have this available to use as a hand held piece they can point at a car. The one we saw in class was valued at around $2500 and I was holding it when he told us that price point. I immediately handed it off.
There was more, but my brain could not/would not compute. (Y’all, I already have nightmares of being back in high school and it’s the last day of my senior year and I haven’t been to classes all year and I have to take all these tests to get my degree and can’t even open my locker!) He gained me back from the point of oblivion when our group moved outside and there waiting like trusty steeds at the ready were 3 police cars, doors open, just beckoning us in to play.
And play we did.
Y’all. They were like, hop in, let’s hit some cars with radar! YESSIR! The Bartlett PD squad cars are equipped with both front facing and rear facing radars. Yes, they can flip a switch and STILL get yo ass if you are behind them. (although they ASSURED us they won’t pop ya unless you’re going 10 mph or more over the posted speed limit, but I personally won’t be testing that statement.) They also have these cool binocular looking things with speed detection technology which I got to use. My A-Team/Airwolf lovin self was in teenager HEAVEN as I took aim through those, and pressed the button to detect the speed and distance each car was travelling as they drove up and down Appling Blvd. The numbers appear on a screen you’re looking through, which was cooler than snot. It was funny to see people slow down as we were all pointing radar guns at ’em from both outside and inside the cars. I’m sure seeing a group of about 20 folks standing around police cars was enough to slow ’em down initially just out of curiosity, but if they happened to see the radar guns, that also helped.
Each police officer in the (Bartlett) police academy has to be certified on radar, meaning they have to correctly guess 25 cars’ speeds while standing outside (without the use of the police car’s radar technology), and once they do that, they THEN have to do the same thing all over again inside the cars, 25 times. Shew. They also are not assigned to “just go pop folks for speeding” (my words, not theirs), as we actually asked if they had a ticket quotient they had to hit each month. They said absolutely not, but they could go sit in a spot with high traffic that had more complaints than others. Also, you know those cool LED type signs that shows your speed as you come up on it? Yeah, y’all. STOP SPEEDING cause not only does it clock and log your info, but there are cameras in the center of them that WILL TAKE YOUR PICTURE so they know what vehicle to look for. The more you know. (side note, they are also sometimes made to appear as if they aren’t working, by not showing you the speed, etc…but OHHHH, those sneaky sneaky signs are still working! Don’t let your guard down, folks!)
Hour 2: Crisis Intervention (CIT):
After our only break (we WERE offered two, but the last one was right before the K-9 portion of the night and folks were eager beavers to see the dawgs), we were treated to a class on Crisis Intervention Training by Detective Jason Jackson. Here’s what the CIT is:
The Memphis Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is an innovative police based first responder program that has become nationally known as the “Memphis Model” of pre-arrest jail diversion for those in a mental illness crisis. This program provides law enforcement based crisis intervention training for helping those individuals with mental illness. Involvement in CIT is voluntary and based in the patrol division of the police department. In addition, CIT works in partnership with those in mental health care to provide a system of services that is friendly to the individuals with mental illness, family members, and the police officers.
This CIT program is now modelled around the world based on what was developed right here in Memphis after police officers (in 1987) were called to an area of public housing in Memphis, Tennessee where a young man was threatening people with a knife. When police officers ordered him to put down the knife, he refused. The officers eventually opened fire and the young man died of multiple gunshot wounds. The man had a history of mental illness. He was black and the officers were white. Many citizens raised their voices in angry protest against the officers with cries of racism and police brutality. Calmer voices prevailed calling for the community to develop a better way to intervene with individuals in mental health crisis. The Mayor of Memphis turned to local advocates from the National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) and enlisted police, community mental health professionals, university leaders, hospital administrators, and church officials to seek a new approach to working with persons with mental illness in crisis. (taken from the www.cit.memphis.edu site.)
Basically what has happened (due to de-funding and insurance companies ruling the roost over folks being able to receive proper medical care), is the local jails and prisons have become the asylums of today and this CIT program has made a huge impact on how officers are trained to approach situations that involve mentally ill persons (referred to as “mental consumers”). The long term results are better handling and de-escalating of situations upon arrival by properly trained CIT officers.
We also saw a few videos, one of which was a man with schizophrenia being interviewed. That one was down right bone chillin. He was on meds, but he could still “see” demons behind the doctor as they were talking. He claimed they were telling him to hurt the doctor but he knew it was wrong because the meds enabled him to tell the difference, and then he just laughed this horrible laugh, took a drag off the cigarette he was smoking and said he was tired and done with the interview. (Que my hasty exit out of his damned room, if I were that dang doctor).
Again, there was a lot more info given, but after the schizo man video, I quit taking notes.
Hour 3: THE PUPPY DAWGS aka the K-9 Crew:
Y’all, I didn’t take one lick of notes for this portion because, PUPPY DAWGS! However, I will say they kinda tricked us because instead of having the dogs in there for the entire portion of the class, we had to actually learn crap, I mean, facts. If I’m being honest, the most cool fact I learned was all about the dogs’ noses and just how strong their sense of smell really is. Those cute lil slits on the sides of our dogs noses actually help filter the air and collect more scent molecules. They can tell so much from scent, like the past (who was there), the future (who’s coming at ya from far enough away that you can’t tell someone’s there but the dog can), and so much more. (They can literally “see” with their smell.)
Check out this video they showed us on how dogs smell, which, with a lil innerwebs sleuthing on my part, I was able to find:
These dogs are all bought from overseas breeders (Europe) because the bloodlines are better. They typically use German Shepherds/Belgium Malinois or a cross of the two (which is what my Mia girl is). Prices on the lower end can range from around $8500 for a “green” dog they train themselves upon arrival, to upwards of $24K give or take a bit, but that dog is coming with ALL the bells and whistles straight out of the shoot upon arrival.
It typically takes between 8-10 weeks to formally train a new dog, along with it’s handler/policeman. They are paired for life if the partner is able and willing to keep the dog. They are treated as equals, as family, and mourned as such when they are at the end of their lives. They showed us a video from Memphis PD footage of a suspect takedown by K-9 Gunner from back in 2009 who was stabbed around 10-11 times during his tackle of the suspect. Thankfully, Gunner lived and kept working after his recovery until his retirement. I can’t find any video footage (it was taken from a helicopter at night and uses heat seeking technology to show the suspects, the police and the K-9). It was very easy to tell when the suspect was stabbing the dog, and you could see when the blood was pooling on the ground from his stab wounds; but that dog did his job and never stopped. I fought back tears, because my Mia is sooo special to me and I couldn’t imagine someone hurting her. I did find this article on Gunner, though. Check it out HERE.
THEN, the puppy dawgs came in! First up was newbie Gozer and his partner (who’s name I didn’t write down). Gozer is still a puppy, just a few months old, but already very well mannered and the training is sticking. They showed how he searches for drug scents already, how he can flip a switch and go from playful to serious in a second, and just how awesome he really is. He’s going to be a big dog when he’s fully grown. He also had the prettiest eye color ever. They looked like warm butterscotch.
Next in line was Ali. Ali is 9, same age as my Mia, and had some recent back surgery, but is still very much in command. Ali is a dog who’s presence commands respect. I wouldn’t want to tussle with either dog, but I sure would snuggle either or both! (It was ALL I could do to NOT play the audio of “Can I pet that dawg?” while they were showing us the K-9s!)
Next week we have Communications and Traffic Stops. We are going to be outside for most of our 3 hours, so it should prove to be a blast. Stay tuned!