Last week at my citizen’s police academy was extra special because my good friend Gina Grant was down from Toronto for GRL and I got special permission for her to join us. And she had a good time and even asked questions! 🙂
The three topics we covered were: Traffic Stops / DUI Investigation / Radar Enforcement
Things I learned:
Two hazards officers face during a traffic stop: felonious assaults and accidental assaults. The first meaning the person the officer has pulled over attacks with or without a weapon and the second is that the officer is struck by an oncoming car by a motorist who isn’t paying attention.
We went over the different ways an officer can approach a car without being seen in the motorist’s side mirror until the officer is right next to them and also how officers set up their cars when they are pulling over a person suspected of a felony. We went outside at that point where a minivan and a police car were parked. A couple of people took turns being the “cop” and the “motorist”, running through different senarios of situations officers find themselves in when pulling someone over. Very enlightening!
Back inside we spent a lot of time on the DUI portion. Officers are scrutinized more on a DUI arrest than on any other type of arrest. You should see the paperwork! Takes them a minimum of 2-3 hours from start to finish on a simple DUI with no type of accident involved as well.
Two officers are always called for a DUI stops/sobriety tests, mainly for the officers’s safety in case the motorist becomes violent. Contrary to what people believe, the portable breathalyzer tests the officers perform there on the street is not admissible as evidence but is mainly used as probable cause to arrest the person.
At this point the sergeant giving the talk asked for a volunteer and I got picked! Man I was up in front of the class for a long time! LOL! He used me as an example of the different types of sobriety tests they give. And I found one of them pretty fascinating. We’ve all seen the police hold their finger up and tell the person to follow their finger with just their eyes, not to move their head. What they’re looking for is how much your eyes are jerking and WHEN they start jerking. They can tell how much you’ve had to drink by at what point from center your eyes start moving. It’s been scientifically proven to be almost as accurate as a breathalyzer test. I thought that was really cool.
Then he had me put on the “drunk goggles” which simulate how off your balance and perception becomes when you’re past the legal limit. OMG, that was freaking bizarre! He gave me a simple instruction to just turn and face him and even though to ME it looked like I was staring right at him I was totally wrong! Then I had to do the “heel to toe” test, aka “walking the line”. What a disaster that was! LOL! I took one step and almost fell over! He told me to not wave my arms around to use them for balance. Yeah, forget that! LOL! I’ve never been drunk in my life, and if that’s what it’s like, I never want to be!
The last thing we did was go back outside with the radar gun, which is actually a laser gun, which is extremely accurate, unlike a radar gun. We stood at the curb in front of the police station and clocked people going by. Most were well below the speed limit because honestly, aren’t you going to slow down when you see a bunch of people standing at the road, wondering what’s going on? 🙂 But we did get a few that were well over, which is pretty stupid seeing as you’re speeding right past the police station! At that point one of my classmates asked the sergeant at what point do they pull people over – going 5 mph over, etc? He said he’s extremely generous and will give people up to 12 mph over. Wow! That kind of shocked me!
Overall a really interesting night with a lot of hands on things, which is always great.