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. 🙂

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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!