Citizen Police Academy – Week 9

Carol Stream CPA3

Yesterday’s class was the most sobering, horrifying and exciting CPA that we’ve had.

Last night’s topic was Traffic Stops, led by Sgt. Incrocci and Sgt. Steffie.

Traffic stops are the single most dangerous thing an officer does. Over 160 officers were killed in one year due to traffic stops. They are the most unpredictable event and one that happens most often to an officer on a daily basis. You could be a little old lady on her way to Bingo or you could be a hardened criminal who just robbed a bank. An officer never knows until he walks up to your car door.

Most of the first hour and a half of class was watching the worst dash-cam videos possible of officers being murdered in cold blood. It was horrifying. People jumping out of their cars, running to the squad car and shooting and killing the officer before they could even open their doors. One of them was a 72 year old man. SEVENTY-TWO. Jumped out with a rifle and shot right through the windshield several times. Some the officers were searching and the person had a gun. A struggle ensued and the officer was shot and killed. Some were actually beaten to death with bare hands and kicks to the head. Even an unarmed person is capable of murder.

We were all really shaken by these videos (which also had sound, so you could hear the yells and screams). How could you not be, watching people being killed?

The point of it all was to make us realize that there is a reason for everything an officer does when they approach your car, how they approach your car, how they interact with you. They have NO IDEA what you’re thinking or planning. They’re not being assholes. They’re trying to protect themselves.

To really hammer this point home, for the next hour we went outside (in the freezing cold!) and we did mock traffic stops where WE were the police officers. This is where the exciting part of the night came in.

We were split into two groups of 8 each (some members of class opted not to do this exercise and just watched) with a squad car and a regular vehicle with three Volunteers in it (I can’t wait until I can do this with the next class!). Sergeant Incrocci asked who wanted to go first. We all stood there and looked at one another! LOL! Then suddenly the guy next to me, John (who I’ve become friends with) grabbed my arm and raised MY hand! Sgt. Incrocci’s like, “Okay, let’s go!” while everyone else laughed and I stood there with my mouth open shooting a mock death stare at John. I can’t believe he did that! LOL!

Next thing I know I’ve got a very realistic hard plastic gun in my pocket and I’m in the front seat of the squad. Sergeant Incrocci ran me through how to use the radio to call in, how to turn the red and blue lights on and the spotlight. Then I was on my own. I should’ve known, being the first, that this was going to be trial by fire. Sure enough, I had no more than stepped out of the squad, didn’t even have a chance to close the door and the driver jumped out and charged me. He was on me in less than four seconds. But I’m damn quick myself and had my gun drawn and shot him when he was about a foot away from me. That was close! And damn scary. Like I said, they were driving a point home to us. I got a round of applause as I rejoined my group. 🙂

I then watched as the rest of my classmates were each put through a different scenario. Everything from complacent drivers to one that jumped out and put a gun to his own head, to two passengers arguing with each other and not complying to them smoking weed in the backseat to one driver that drew a gun. I was then picked to be “backup” for a classmate when all three Volunteers jumped out of the car and were walking around yelling, refusing commands. Then because Sergeant Incrocci felt bad that my scenario only lasted five seconds I got to go a second time. Then myself and two others got to be the suspects in the car while Sergeant Incrocci and Sergeant Staffie showed the class how do do a felony stop, how to get us out of the car, search and handcuff us.

While the night started off very disturbing it ended up being one of the best nights. We were all so pumped up with adrenaline we didn’t even remember it was so cold out! In the end it was lesson learned – traffic stops are the most dangerous, unpredictable events a cop ever experiences.

Next week is DUI Enforcement where we get to wear the drunk goggles and drive a golf cart through an obstacle course!

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