Tag Archive | police academy

Citizen Police Academy – Week 11

Carol Stream CPA3

It was graduation night at police academy class! There was cake! And certificates! Can’t believe 11 weeks went by so fast. I’m definitely going to miss it. I made a couple of nice friends. Besides the cops. 🙂

The Chief of Police, the Deputy Chief of Police, the Deputy Mayor and a few officers were there to give little speeches. Mainly to thank all of us for our commitment to the class and how much they appreciate us being their liaisons, so to speak, with the general public. Getting the word out as to how the police department operates.

Then we all got our certificates and had yummy cake to celebrate. Then we took a class photo (which we’ll be getting emailed to us shortly). Afterwards we finally got a tour of the police department. Always thought that was strange, to save it for last instead of the first class.

It was time to say goodbye then. I’ll be seeing some of my classmates through the Volunteer program and others I’ll see when I go through the CERT training (Citizen Emergency Response Team) later on in October.

So that’s a wrap on the 2015 Carol Stream Citizen Police Academy! Thank you all for reading along these last few months and for your wonderful comments to my entries. 🙂

Citizen Police Academy – Week 10

Carol Stream CPA3

Last night’s class was on Traffic and DUI Enforcement. It was run once again by Officer Cluever, who should run every class. 🙂  He’s such a riot and has the best stories. He had us in stitches about some of the traffic calls he’s been on. Including one he calls his “Dukes of Hazard moment” when the Tahoe he was driving literally went airborne when he tried to drive someplace he shouldn’t have been, chasing a car.

We spent a bit of time talking about seat belts. I’m amazed that our police department writes over 600 seat belt tickets every year. I’m stunned that that many people don’t wear a belt! I don’t know one single person who doesn’t. We saw a terrible video of a cab driver from the POV of his internal camera. He fell asleep at the wheel then woke up right before he was about to hit someone. He panicked and over corrected. He slammed into something and then the car flipped and rolled down a ditch. He was not wearing his seat belt. His body was thrown from one end of the car to the other, his head finally smashing through the window, where he was decapitated. Another was a video reenactment of a real incident that happened. Four teenagers in a car. Three wearing seat belts and one not. They were hit head on. The boy in the back not wearing his belt was thrown all the way to the windshield then all the way back. He killed all three of his friends with his body. Broke their necks. So like I said, why would you NOT wear a seat belt??

We talked about red light cameras and their pros and cons. As someone who got dinged by one (but fought it and won) I’m not a fan. But I never thought about the fact that those cameras capture a LOT more than people turning right on red. We saw some videos of crazy traffic crashes captured on camera that really helped the police with their investigations.

The rest of the evening was spent on DUI Enforcement. We went through a lot of statistics. We talked about driving under the influence of alcohol and also narcotics and prescription drugs. It was explained how they scientifically came up with .08 being the legal limit.

Then came the fun part of the evening – driving the golf cart through an obstacle course while wearing the drunk goggles. 🙂

We got to drive though it one time without the goggles and then had to put them on. We were told to drive as fast as we could. So of course all the guys in class thought they were Mario Andretti. They were hitting cones left and right, running them over and dragging them under the golf cart, they were hitting the median in the parking lot and smashing into the “School Zone” sign. Honestly, we were in hysterics. If someone <i>didn’t</i> hit a cone we were disappointed!

When it was finally my turn I navigated the course without the glasses like a pro. Didn’t hit anything. I owe it all to my go-kart driving skills. 😉  Then I put the glasses on.  Holy cow, there went the depth perception right out the window! I almost missed putting my hands on the steering wheel! LOL! Everything was completely distorted and blurry. I thought I was going to make it but BAM! Hit a cone and sent it flying. Sergeant Cooper sitting next to me said, “Ah, don’t worry about it. It was only a child in the school zone.” LOL! Oh and Officer Cluever was out there taking pictures of all of us driving, so I’ll see if I can get him to email me the one he took of me so I can share. 🙂

Overall it was a great evening. We learned some serious information and then got to act silly for awhile. We also thought that it would be a good idea for the police to take this obstacle course to the high schools as part of their Driver Education program. I think it would be a real eye opener for kids learning to drive.

It’s hard to believe but graduation is next week! These eleven weeks have just flown by. I know I’m going to miss going to class every Thursday, for sure.

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!

Citizen Police Academy – Week 8

Carol Stream CPA3

It was Drugs and Gangs at last night’s CPA class. We had Corporal Cummings from DuMEG and Detectives Grey and Dunteman from our Special Operations Unit.

DuMEG stands for DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group. There are 33 different towns in the county that take part, either by contributing financially or by offering up manpower. My town has had an officer in DuMEG for the past 4 years. The main objective for DuMEG is undercover narcotics investigation.

Heroin is the number one drug now, surpassing cocaine, crack and meth. It’s readily available, cheaper than any other drug and extremely potent. Heroine is the most abused of all narcotics. It’s derived from morphine. It has an unpredictable purity level and an extremely high addiction rate. The most well-known types are China White and Mexican Brown.

The stories that Cummings told about dealing with heroine addicts both turned your stomach and broke your heart. The DuMEG officers feel for these people. They don’t want to be hooked on drugs but it’s a physical sickness and they just can’t stop. Because your body builds up a tolerance to heroine you constantly need more and more. Not even to get high, just to function. One of their informants shoots up TWLEVE times a DAY.

In 2013 there were 64 heroine deaths in our county. In 2014 there were 33.

Most bags of heroine are $10. A “dime bag” but you can buy a “jab”, which is 15 bags for around $100. Possession of heroine is an immediate class four felony and a three year prison term.

Cummings talked about this huge case that just happened a little over a year ago. They busted a guy for dealing heroine. He was looking at a minimum of 15 years. He said he had information on a massive cannabis ring and wanted to make a deal. Turns out that several times a month this guy in the county was having huge quantities of cannabis driven from Arizona here. His information was amazingly accurate and about a month later they stopped the 4-car convoy and seized over 600 POUNDS of cannabis. We saw the photos of the cars packed with the drug. It was somewhere close to a million dollars street value. Yikes!

Next up Detectives Grey and Dunteman talked about the Special Ops unit and their main mission is gang suppression. With a focus on drugs as well.

There are 150,000 gang members in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. My town has approximately 125 members. What I found interesting is that they’re not really active in town. They go into Chicago or the neighborhoods close to the city to gang bang. Then they come out here to the suburbs to “lay their heads”. We’re a “bedroom community for gang members”. While I certainly don’t want gang members in my town I’m glad that at least they’re not terrorizing the citizens.

Many years ago gang members were out and proud. They wore their colors and flashed their gang signs and when asked they readily admitted what gang they were in. Things have changed now. They don’t display colors or get tattoos and deny being part of a gang, trying to fly under the radar nowadays.

The special ops unit is also in charge of keeping tabs on parolees who move into town. Right now we have 26 people in town on parole. For anything from robbery all the way to murder. Yikes! Parolees have no expectation of privacy. They can be stopped simply just walking down the street and searched. Same goes for their homes or vehicles.

They also are in charge of sex offenders in town. We have such strict rules for where these people can live that it’s nearly impossible for them to find housing.

It was a really informative night. You don’t want to think about drugs or gangs in the town you live in, but it’s reality. And the more informed you are the safer you’ll be. The stories that all of the officers told about cases they’ve worked on were really fascinating.

Next week is the Traffic Unit. We get to go outside and simulate traffic stops, taking turns being the driver and the police officer. Cool! I’ve done these simulations before and they’re always fun and interesting.

Citizen Police Academy – Week 7

CSI shirt

It was CSI night at class yesterday! So for shits and giggles I had to bust out the appropriate shirt. Heh.

Needless to say, it was a hit with both my classmates and our instructors. One of the Evidence guys saw me and said “The CSI tech is here! The class is yours!” 🙂  Gotta love these guys.

So yes, last night’s topic was Crime Scene Investigations and Fingerprinting. Officer Cluever was back (this guy is a riot!) so it was a very entertaining evening. He tells the best stories!

I didn’t take a lot of notes last night, mainly because since forensics is a passion of mine, I already knew 90% of what he was talking about. But here are a few of the things he went over:

• 3 kinds of evidence – Physical, Testimonial (least reliable) and Documentary

• First officer on scene gives aid to victim, preserves the scene/evidence and obtains info from the victim/witnesses

• Number one thing that destroys evidence – the fire department/paramedics! They are rather destructive, but their job is to save lives, not evidence. Second thing that destroys evidence – other police officers walking through the scene.

• A good Evidence Tech can figure out what happened before talking to the first officer on scene.

• Never package any liquids or anything wet (like clothing) in a plastic evidence bag. It can mold. Use paper bags.

Then we got to the hands-on portion of the evening, which I’d been waiting for. We were split into two groups (thankfully my group was smaller). First group would be presented with a scenario and then have to collect evidence from a car. Second group would be doing fingerprinting, then we would switch.

We got the vehicle search first. We were told that there was a woman missing, she worked at Starbucks, last seen arguing with her boyfriend outside of the coffee shop. Boyfriend’s car was impounded, but he said he hadn’t driven it in over a week. Then we were set loose on the car like a swarm of ants. 🙂  This is why I’m glad we had the smaller group because the other group must’ve been falling over each other.

I thought it was funny that when we were turned loose, everyone went for the four doors of the car. Me? I went for the trunk! And gosh, what did I find? Plastic gloves, rope, duct tape and a shoe. Bingo! When I did get into the front seat of the car (that 5 other people had already been in) I also looked UP and saw papers in the visor. Turns out they were MapQuest directions, which led to the discovery of the girlfriend’s body. Double bingo! (Officer Cleuver remarked he thought we were all going to miss the papers) But my classmates did find other evidence, too, like a newspaper dated just a couple days earlier (but no one had been in the car, eh?) a cell phone and a Starbucks cup. All in all it was a really fun exercise.

We did the fingerprinting next, which is always fun. For the first time I got to use the magnetic dust. It was very cool (and much less messy!) but I didn’t feel that it gave better lifts. I’ve had much more success with the traditional black dust. At one point the Evidence tech came by and looked over my shoulder and said “How’s the CSI gal doing? I expect you to have the best lifts in the class since you’re already trained!” LOL! But I will admit the gal next to me did get a better one than I did. 🙂

At the end of the night I finally got my official Volunteer clothes! Holy cow is this stuff nice! It’s a heavy jacket, a hoodie and a polo shirt. All three have VOLUNTEER written in white letters on the back and on the front is the police logo. I’m definitely ready for my first assignment now!

Volunteer logo   Volunteer clothes

Citizen Police Academy – Week 6

Carol Stream CPA3

Last night’s class was held at DuComm – our consolidated 911 center for our county. I live only 10  minutes away from it and didn’t even know it was there, right behind the Target store!

DuComm stands for DuPage Public Safety Communications. It’s the largest consolidated 911 center in the entire state of Illinois. It serves 17 police departments and 22 fire departments which spans over 800,000 citizens in total.

There are a total of 9 police dispatchers, 4 fire dispatchers and 1 alarm board operator per shift. Each station has six computer monitors: the live incoming 911 call, a mapping system showing where the call is originating from and where all of the available police units are, what police units are currently on call/available, police and fire radio traffic and the LEADS system which runs driver’s license number and license plate numbers. Having seen the inside of the call center it’s an impressive set up!

All landline 911 calls go directly to DuComm. All 911 calls from cell phones first go to our county Sheriff’s department and they route the calls to either DuComm or another police or fire station. 70% of all 911 calls are from cell phones.

If you call 911 from a cell phone, this is what is transmitted to the call center – the address of the closest cell tower to you, your cell phone number, your cell phone carrier and a general latitude and longitude. It’s not an exact science for pinpointing your location which is why the dispatchers may ask you many questions to figure out exactly where you are.

DuComm takes approximately 1500 calls in just 8 hours. 1000 of which are 911 calls. Yeah, it’s a busy place when you’re taking care of 39 different police and fire districts.

For fire alarm calls that come into DuComm, the dispatchers have the capability to not only sound the appropriate alarm tone at the station, but if it’s at night they can also turn on the lights at the station so the firemen aren’t stumbling around in the dark, they can open the bay doors remotely and even turn off the gas on the stove. I thought all of that was way cool!

Training wise, a fire dispatcher is much harder than a police dispatcher. It’s 13 weeks for fire and 9 weeks for police.

This job is so stressful that it weighs on you, messes with your head, gives you nightmares and will send you to counseling. If you make it past two years (which is the average drop out rate) then this will become your career because you have what it takes.

After the presentation we got to go out into the call center itself. It’s a beehive of constant activity and voices. All the dispatchers work as a team. One will take a call and start getting information and entering it into the computer, while another dispatcher is reading it and sending out calls to either the police or fire departments. They’re like a well-oiled machine. And they need to be. We got to listen in on three 911 calls while we were standing there, all within ten minutes.

All in all a fascinating night! Next week is Crime Scene Processing. YES!! Can’t wait for that one!

And last but not least, I’m finally an official Volunteer! Got my credentials last night. Woot! Bring on my first assignment!

FB volunteer badge

An up close look at law enforcement – from the passenger seat of a squad car

Carol Stream CPA3

As part of my Citizen Police Academy class we’re each given an opportunity to ride along with an officer for a six-hour shift. It was my turn this past weekend. I had the Saturday night/Sunday morning shift from 8:00 pm until 2:00 am.  What an awesome, interesting experience!

I’ll give a brief rundown of what happened…I was paired up with Officer James Busch. Young guy, early 30’s, married, two young kids. He’s fairly new to the force – just 2 1/2 years. Was in sales for 10 years and then switched to law enforcement. He was so friendly. Answered all my questions. And had questions for me, too. 🙂  We jammed out to classic rock on the radio all night. Very cool! He was the best story-teller. All night he told me about calls he’d been on in town. Some were serious, some were too bizarre to believe. And James LOVES to drive fast! Holy crap we were flying in that Charger at various points during the night!

We hit the street running, nearly literally. I hadn’t been at the station for more than five minutes when I hear a call come in about 3 drunk guys fighting, threatening to kill each other. The door opens and there’s this officer standing there asking if I’m Jamie. I’m like, yep and he’s like we gotta go right now. We pretty much ran out of the station, I hopped in the passenger seat and we were off to the fight call. Way to start off the evening! LOL! Ended up at an apartment complex along with three other squad cars. I had to stay in the car of course while James went inside. He was gone for a good 20 minutes before the situation was resolved. No arrests were made. They got the guys to disburse and for two of them not to come back.

Time for patrol duty after that. Let’s see – we made four traffic stops for various infractions. The cool thing is, once the lights come on on the patrol car, the camera starts running, and so does the microphone on the officer’s vest. So even though I had to stay in the car I could hear everything he was saying along with the person in the car. It was so cool! We wrote three tickets and one warning. Do you know the police have a printer in their car so they don’t have to hand write tickets any longer? Neat! We ran radar many times that night but couldn’t catch anyone speeding! We were both disappointed. 🙂

We went on two noise complaint calls at two different apartment buildings. At one the people had already turned down the music. At the other tickets were handed out. Why? These people were having their **wedding reception** at their apartment with a DJ blasting music! Seriously?? They really thought their neighbors wouldn’t complain?

Most exciting thing that happened was a traffic accident in the left turn lane of a big intersection. At first it didn’t seem serious. It was snowing out so we figured the one guy had just slid into the back of the other when he tried to stop. Hmmm….not so much. Turns out the second guy was drunk and this is now a DUI investigation. Not helping matters is that this guy (he was Vietnamese) apparently spoke NO English (yet we give this man a driver’s license??) and was on the phone using his pastor to translate between him and James. It was beyond a frustrating situation. Even though it was being translated to him, this guy was not complying with commands. At one point he got back in his car and attempted to leave! James was back in the car with me looking at this guy’s history (he had a DIU in 2013) when the taillights come on and he starts blowing his horn at the guy he hit, trying to make this guy move! Thankfully he didn’t and James was out of the car in a flash, yelling at this guy to turn off the car and get out.

A field sobriety test was attempted at that point. I say attempted because this guy failed spectacularly. He was fairly cooperative until James brought out the portable breathalyzer. He put up his hands, shook his head and tried to get back in his car. When James put his hand on his arm he pulled away. That was it. Now we’re resisting. James was done and had this guy in handcuffs in the blink of an eye. He put him up against the front of the squad car and searched him, emptied his pockets, then he was in the back seat behind me, under arrest for DUI. It was the most fascinating thing to watch! Then we had to call for a tow truck to come impound the car. The guy started talking to himself, mumbling as we transported him back to the station for booking. I was just glad he wasn’t combative.

Because James had me as a ride-along and didn’t want to take up anymore of the evening (we’d been out there dealing with this guy for a hour already) we didn’t go through the booking process, just dropped him off so we could get back out on the street on patrol again. We ended the night with a suspected DUI that started off because of some traffic infractions. While James could smell alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, he only blew a 0.6 and 0.8 is the legal limit so we had to let him go with the just the traffic tickets.

All in all it was a great night and I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience something most people never will. And James said he’s looking forward to seeing me at the Volunteer events. Next time I’m going to get a picture with him!

Citizen Police Academy – Week 5

Carol Stream CPA3

First let me say – female police officers kick ASS. Literally! Last night’s class was on Use of Force and Arrest Procedures. It was taught by Officers Julie Johnson and Amanda Taylor. They are both the instructors for the entire police department on these topics, plus Defensive Tactics. They were both very nice women, but boy, are they tough! 🙂

We started with Use of Force, which is a hot button issue, especially nowadays. I truly wish everyone in the U.S. could take a class like this. To truly understand the point of view of the police themselves. NOT the media and the unreliable/outright lying witnesses. Because of the media and their narrow view the first instinct is to ALWAYS blame the police. And 99% of the time they are absolutely justified in their use of force.

One complaint people have when they get pulled over for a traffic stop is that the officer was not friendly, looked at them suspiciously, etc. Well guess what? THEY DON’T KNOW YOU. You could’ve committed a bank robbery five minutes earlier and you have a gun. 18% of officer deaths each year are from traffic stops. The videos we saw of officers getting killed as they walked up to a car was chilling and horrifying. Do you blame them for constantly being on their guard? So please people, STOP and THINK the next time you have an interaction with a police officer. They are CONSTANTLY thinking about how you might harm them.

Here’s something else that will help you try and understand what physically happens to an officer when they’re in a use of force situation: 85% reported diminished sound (blocking out everything around them), 80% reported tunnel vision, 74% reported an automatic pilot feeling (when their training kicks in), 65% reported slow motion time, 51% reported memory loss for parts of the event. The amount of adrenaline coursing through their system is crazy insane.

We watched several more videos from patrol car dash-cams that made it appear that the police were shooting and killing unarmed people. Then we watched the other POV from the other patrol car dash-cam which clearly showed a weapon in their hands. Everyone nowadays is screaming for police to wear body-cams. Well guess what? This was a prime example of why they’re not effective tools – they, too, only show ONE narrow point of view. Tunnel vision. Especially if there is only one officer on the scene and there is no other camera catching the action as well. You can’t see what the officer sees out of the corner of his eye, etc.

This is a topic that I feel very strongly about. I’m tired of the police being made out to be the villain because people don’t stop and think about the SPLIT SECOND an officer has to make a decision about use of force. It’s just easier to say the police are evil and kill people whenever they feel like it without justification. Makes me sick.

To go along with that split second decision making, we had a demonstration on what’s called the “reactionary gap”. This is why the police do not want you standing any closer than five feet from them.  Why? Because YOU will win if you come at them with a gun or a knife simply because the officer cannot draw their weapon fast enough. Our officers have “Level 3 holsters”. This means they have a “hood” that flips up over the top of the gun and also a release button they have to press. It’s good and bad. Good because if someone tries to take their weapon in a struggle they’re not going to be able to. Bad, because like I just said, they have three steps to take to draw their weapon, slowing their reaction time. But people are always, “the police were mean to me!” when they’re told to stop and not come any closer.

How would you like to have a job where you ALWAYS have to think that someone might want to hurt or kill you? People need to give that some thought before passing instant judgement on the police.

Next topic was Arrest Procedures. You will be handcuffed if you’re under arrest, an escape risk or you’re a danger to yourself or others. Unlike being placed under arrest, which requires probable cause, you may be detained if the officer has reasonable suspicion you’ve committed a crime.

Every suspect is searched twice – once at the scene and again at the station prior to being booked. There are different kinds of searches: frisk/pat down, custodial/arrest, strip and body cavity. Officers never search or take anyone into custody by themselves. There is always another officer on scene.

We were shown examples of what look like everyday items that were taken off of suspects that were really weapons. There were knives hidden in belt buckles, combs, brushes, pens and even lipstick.

I mentioned this from another class, but you only need to be read your Miranda rights if you are in police custody or if you are under interrogation.

Next week’s class is being held at DuMeg, which is our county 911 dispatch center. Nearly all the towns around me no longer have 911 call centers at the police station. Because of budget cuts they’ve consolidated down to one central call center. And you can imagine how crazy it is there, taking calls from six towns. It should be a really interesting evening!

I was expecting to get my Volunteer credentials and gear last night but the sergeant came up to me and said that the photos he took of me last week were blurry and he has to take them again! ARGH!

But to end on a good note – my ride along is TOMORROW! I’ll be on patrol from 8:00 pm until 2:00 am. Wish me luck for an exciting night!

Citizen Police Academy – Week 4

Carol Stream CPA3

First let me start off with the good news that my volunteer application was accepted! I got finger printed and my photo taken for my official credentials last night. I also got sized for my official clothing. It’s a good thing I look good in red! I just missed out on taking part in a prisoner search training exercise that will be taking place this Sunday. Rats! But I’m now on the list and will await my first volunteer assignment. I’m totally excited!

So, last night’s topics were the SWAT team and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.

Officer Schneider from the SWAT team started us off, dressed in his uniform and with all of his equipment that he carries with him at all times displayed on the table at the front of the room. His personal catchphrase is “icky, bad”. As in “We’re called in when it’s an icky, bad situation”. I swear he must’ve said that phrase about ten times during class. 🙂

Our SWAT team was formed in 1979 and then merged with the county SWAT team about 10 years ago. They currently have 22 members but are in the process of hiring 8 more. (There has never been a woman on the team, which I was disappointed to hear).

If you don’t already know, SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics. They are broken down into teams – Shield Team, Perimeter Team, Entry Team, React Team and Forward Observer Team (these are the snipers). They are also assisted by three other special ops teams – Negotiating Team, Intelligence Team and Communications Team.

SWAT’s main missions are: barricaded suspects, hostage rescue, high risk arrest warrants, drug raids, crowd control and VIP security.

Their code is: Speed, Surprise and the Violence of Action.

Besides standard building/house training they also train on buses, planes and trains. These are called “tubular assaults”.  For building/house assaults they have Dynamic Entry (which is when they literally break down the doors, go in through windows, and are yelling loudly) and Stealth Entry (which is exactly what you think it is – sneaking in quietly to take the suspects unawares).

We saw several training videos where they fire live rounds called “simunitions”. These are bullets that have a hard rubber tip that bursts open upon contact and sprays colored detergent. Many years ago in a different CPA class I took, we got to use these. Let me tell you, these are no paintballs. These suckers hurt if you get hit, which is the point, really. I actually still have a spent round from that class I kept as a souvenir. 🙂

Officer Schneider then took us through a few missions he’d been on, showed us photographs from them and then went over all of his equipment, which he passed around to all of us. I got to handle a wicked AR-15 rifle with the coolest laser scope I’d ever seen, a massive less-than-lethal rifle that fires these huge rubber bullets (or gas canisters), a .45 pistol and the breast plate from his vest. Holy crap was that heavy. He said that when he’s got everything on it’s an additional forty pounds!

At the end of his presentation I was again bitten by the same plot bunny I had a few months ago, about the SWAT sniper and the police psychologist. Hmmm…

Then Officer Cleuver took us through Commercial Vehicle Enforcement. Yes, it’s an exciting a topic as you think it would be! LOL!  But it’s actually really important for our town. We have a massive industrial base and we’ve got trucks of all shapes and sizes rolling through 24 hours a day. So making sure these vehicles are not overweight and obey all safety regulations is really important. We’ve had several fatal traffic accidents because of trucks which is now down to just one in the last five years. Mainly because of Officer Cleuver. This is his mission and he’s amazing at it. The stories he told us and photos he showed us of trucks were unbelievable. Some were overweight by 46,000 pounds! It was an $18,000 fine! And I have to give kudos – he took a very boring topic and made it fun. He’s so high energy and was making jokes and talking a million miles a minute. I really liked him. And we’ll have him back in a few weeks talking about traffic stops.

Next week the entire class is on Use of Force. Taught by two <i>female</i> officers, who run the entire program for the police department. Female power! I’m excited to meet them.

Citizen Police Academy – Week 3

Carol Stream CPA3

Last night’s topic was Investigations. We spent the entire 3 hours of class examining a rape/homicide case from 2002 of a 14 year-old local girl step by step, from the time she was reported missing until her body was found. The case is historic because it’s the first documented incident of two complete strangers meeting online who plot to rape and murder a child and then actually commit the crime.

Class was led by Detective Lally, who was the lead investigator on the rape/murder. The victim was a 14 year-old high school student named Nassim Davoodi. Nassim was of Indian descent and was also Muslim. Her parents were intensely strict. She basically couldn’t go anywhere except school. She was not to leave the house to go to the mall without being accompanied by her mother or older brother. She was not allowed over at any friend’s houses. She was not allowed any internet access. She was not allowed to speak on the phone past 9:00 pm (this was before smart phones, too, remember, so texting didn’t exist). Needless to say she lived a very sheltered, naive life thanks to her parents.

The suspects were Skyler Chambers and Turner Reeves. Both were 21 years old and African American. Skyler was from Hayward, CA and Turner was a local Chicago man. They met innocently enough online in a chat room about computer software. Over the next two years they somehow went from talking about video games to the rape/murder fantasies they both had, all centered on the fetish they had for Hispanic women. Things just escalated between the two of them until they hatched the plan for Skyler to come to Chicago and stay at Turner’s house and they would then pick out a young Hispanic girl and rape and murder her.

So Skyler arrives from California and Turner enlists the help of his 18 year old high school cousin Jarrett Curtis. Jarrett takes them to the high school parking lot (in Turner’s tan car) where Skyler and Turner watch the students for two days. On the third day they both see Nassim and say that she’s the one. (Please note that neither of them were smart enough to realize that Nassim was NOT Hispanic, but Indian). Jarrett somehow knows Nassim, so he calls her over and introduces her to Skyler and Turner and then leaves. Skyler and Turner offer to give Nassim a ride home.

Now put yourself in Nassim’s shoes. She’s controlled every minute of her life by her parents. Not allowed to have friends and certainly not a boyfriend. And suddenly these two older guys are taking an interest in her, want to get to know her. So what does she do? She takes the opportunity to rebel against her parents and gets in the car with them. Unfortunately that was the last decision she ever made.

Skyler and Turner go back to Turner’s house where they pull the car in the garage, close the door and proceed to rape and then murder Nassim. They take her body about an hour away to a secluded spot of woods that Turner knows about. They drag her body through fields and over fences before digging a very shallow grave and then leave her body there.

Detective Lally took us through the entire investigation after her parents reported her missing that evening. I’ll just share the highlights that broke the case in just seven days:

Through interviews at the schools the suspicious tan car was reported. Jarrett was linked to it and admits it’s his cousin’s car. Police interview Turner (and Skyler, too, since he was staying at Turner’s house). They both say the same story they’d already rehearsed – yes, they were at the school, just picking up Jarrett both days. They saw Nassim get into a white car with two Hispanic men and then Jarrett says he heard she was at a Latin King’s party (gang party) later that night.

That was the start of their undoing, that they knew nothing about Nassim’s personal life, that she would never have been at a party like that. So a wire tap is put on Jarrett’s phone. Through that they find out that Jarrett was in on it the whole time, that he knew what Turner and Skyler were planning on doing with the girl. He says that he told the police the rehearsed story about the Latin Kings, etc. and know that they told the story about the two Hispanic men.

Turner and Skyler are arrested at this point and Turner’s home searched. They take his computer where they find EVERY online chat log the two had had for the past two years. Hundreds and hundreds of pages, describing the rape/murder they planned to commit. The keyword “rape” showed up 23,000 times in documents on his computer. There were dozens and dozens of rape videos and webpages saved on how to dispose of a dead body.

Turner is put through a lie detector test which he fails spectacularly. Under interrogation afterwards he breaks and admits Nassim was raped and killed at his house. He takes police to her body. During the autopsy both his DNA and Skyler’s DNA are found inside Nassim’s body. There was evidence she was strangled unconscious repeatedly before finally being suffocated to death with a pillow.

Both men are charged with first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping and concealment of a homicidal death. They were eligible for the death penalty. It takes five years before they go to trial. They’re convicted on all counts. But because the judge couldn’t determine without a doubt which one of them actually suffocated her they both got life without parole instead of the death penalty.

It think one of the worst parts was finding out that Nassim’s older brother’s fiancee lived directly across the street from Turner. He was there at her house while his sister was being killed right across the street and didn’t know it. That just broke my heart.

Believe it or not this was the condensed version of all that was discussed last night. It was fascinating how one little statement from one person leads to another lead which leads to another which finally led right to both killers. Kudos to all of the detectives who worked non-stop for seven days to catch these two psychopaths. It’s so sad that because Nassim’s parents kept her so tightly under their thumb, trying to…protect her from life, that it’s what ultimately led to her death.

Next week we talk about Overweight Truck Enforcement (we have a large industrial base in the town that I live in) and more importantly – SWAT!

I also turned in my Volunteer application so I’ve started the process on that. 🙂