agt_spooky: (Police badge)
I spent an amazing, eye-opening, heart-pounding day yesterday with the police department taking part in Active Shooter scenarios.

As the "rookie" of the volunteers I was baptized by fire by being made the "active shooter". Nothing like having three armed officers storm into a room and start shooting you.Yikes! But hey, I got to shoot back! And guess what? I hit ALL THREE officers. Two of them "fatally" and one "seriously wounded". I wish you guys could've seen their faces when the scenario ended and I pulled off my full helmet with face shield. They were all like "WTF? We just got killed by this little girl??" ROTFL! The two instructors were giving me thumbs up signs and said I did "a fantastic job, just what we wanted". Ha! And my fellow volunteers were very impressed. :-)

But I took my knocks in the process. One round hit me in the shoulder, another in the upper arm, one on my hand and another in the leg that actually drew blood and has now swelled up. But it was a small price to pay to take part in the day.

As someone who writes about men in uniform this was invaluable research for me. But just in general it was fascinating to see how each team of officers approached the same scenarios differently, but with the same end result. I'll have a longer blog post about this later, with more detail.

Here's a photo of the rounds that were fired at me. The top is from a Glock, the bottom from an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle (that's the one that drew blood!). The Glock still has the paintball head attached to it.

agt_spooky: (Police badge)
YES! I just got signed up for the Rapid Deployment/Active Shooter training scenario with the police department in July. Protective gear is required as we will be firing simunitions bullets filled with colored laundry detergent. I am SO excited for this!
agt_spooky: (Police badge)

Last night I did a 2 hour volunteer shift at the police department, where I was scanning in mug shots from 1995(!). Hoo-boy did I see some characters! LOL! Word to the wise people - you do NOT look good photographed when you're drunk. Stay sober, folks. :-)

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

Had a nice evening yesterday at our Village board meeting. All of us police volunteers were being recognized for our work and dedication and being thanked for all of the man-hours we saved and all of the money we saved the town ($30,000 a year!). The Mayor and all of the trustees had such nice things to say about us. I've discovered that as a volunteer you become part of the background at events and such as you direct traffic or help hand out flyers, etc. and that was pointed out, that our efforts shouldn't be ignored. Because without us a lot of these events would never even happen!

Twenty of us were able to make it and we took over one entire side of the room in a sea of red shirts. :-)

Speaking of volunteer work, I'm off to the station from 5-7 pm tonight to help scan in all those mug shots. Looking forward to it!

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

So Sunday was so horribly bad we're not even going to talk about it. Instead let's talk about my super awesome fantastic Saturday!

I was doing more volunteer work for the police department at a huge outdoor event called Just Play. They had a rock climbing wall, a zip line, bungie jumping, archery, scuba diving, soccer, lacrosse, etc. Everything was free, designed to get kids out of the house and into a sport that they could first give it a try to see if they liked. The police and fire departments were in the Public Safety Zone. We had 2 squads and 2 trucks that the kids could climb in and get their picture taken. And the fire department had an engine an an ambulance. We were also taking donations for Special Olympics.

I was out there from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm and had an awesome time. The four volunteers took care of getting kids in and out of the cars/trucks while the officers were doing free car seat inspections. The kids were so cute! The best pictures we got was when we convinced mom and/or dad to get in the back seat with the bars as the "prisoner". The kids got a kick out of taking one of their parents to jail. ;-) Best part was when one man thanked me for volunteering, giving up my weekend to be there. I was really touched by that.

Here are a few photos from the event:

Me and my squad car! LOVED getting to drive that sucker. Holy CRAP is it fast! LOL!

I was in charge of the truck for awhile. That thing is huge. A lot more comfortable than the squad!

Took a break to go hang with the fire department next to us. Awesome guys! We had a blast goofing around with them all day.

Speaking of the fire department, they had this remote controlled vehicle called Freddy the Fire Engine that they were running around. At one point they thought they'd be funny and attach a box of donuts and bring them over to us. Smart alecs.

All in all a fabulous day! We even collected $300 in donations for Special Olympics. :-)

How was YOUR weekend?

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

I had such a GREAT day yesterday!

I spent the morning and early afternoon with the police department on my first official Volunteer assignment. i was working with the traffic unit doing truck enforcement. There were State troopers there along with officers from three local departments.

I was working with Jerry, another volunteer who had been doing this for a few years, so he was showing me the ropes. We were responsible for basically standing out in the middle of a major three lane road and flagging down all the truckers and having them pull over to the far right lane to be weighed and inspected. In the five hours we were out there we had to have pulled over 100+ trucks. The troopers issued many citations for unsafe vehicles or overweight and license violations. They even impounded five trucks that were so unsafe to drive they had to be towed.

It was a lot of walking, I ended up with a sunburned face, and even though I was wearing a bright yellow vest you had to constantly be on guard with all of the traffic flying by. It wasn't easy work! But I'm glad that I did it. And so were the officers! They usually have the truckers yelling and swearing at them but I think they were caught off guard by a woman flagging them down and they held their tongues and were civil. :-)

After I got off duty, John and I went out to lunch. We'd seen this tiny little place called Gnarly Knots featured on a local TV show a few months ago. They do these gourmet stuffed pretzels and we'd been meaning to go. Then on Saturday that same program featured a bakery called Vanilla Sugar that just happened to be around the corner from Gnarly Knots. Since I had the day off of work we decided to kill two birds with one stone and go to both places. And they were delicious! John and I shared both a provolone and salami stuffed pretzel and a monterey jack cheese topped one. And then we got some fabulous cookies at the bakery. It was such a beautiful day that we sat outside and ate.

Got home, relaxed, even took a nap. :-) It was a nice end to a great day!

My next police volunteer assignment is on May 16th, where I'll be helping to run a driving simulator at a huge event called Just Play for all the local kids and teenagers. Looking forward to it!

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

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 didn't 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. 

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

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.

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

It was Drugs and Guns 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 twelve 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.

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

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

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!

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

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 female officers, who run the entire program for the police department. Female power! I'm excited to meet them.

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

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.

Read more... )

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

We covered three topics in class last night - Interrogation, Social Services and Special Operations.

Detective Chacon was first, talking about Interrogation. First did you know the difference between an "interview" and an "interrogation"? Most people think the terms are interchangeable but they're not. An interview in an informal conversation before you are placed under arrest. You do not have to be read your Miranda rights for an interview. An interrogation is an official conversation after you've been formally charged and arrested and read your Miranda rights.

He went through the basic steps of any interrogation: General questioning - Fact Finding - Time for suspect to do the talking - Time for detective to listen and develop rapport and determine baseline behavior - Time for detective to be very confident and take control of the conversation. 90% of all communication is non-verbal, aka body language, and detectives become masters at reading this.

During all of this the detective becomes a chameleon. They turn into a sympathetic ear, a friend, a priest, a brother, a sister - change into anything that the suspect will relate to and thereby open up to you and confess. Most times the detectives feel so filthy afterwards because they've pretended to sympathize with the suspect (mostly after talking with peodophiles) that they want to take a shower afterwards.

From all of the examples he gave of cases he's worked on, this sounds like the most mentally draining job ever. Having to constantly put up a facade and pretend to become friends with rapists and murderers…their performances would rival any Hollywood actor.

Next was social worker Kathleen McNamarra talking about Social Services. Her talk was fairly brief but very detailed about the work her department does, as liaisons between the person in distress and the police. I'm actually very impressed at the number of programs my village has in place for senior citizens, children and most especially domestic violence.

Sergeant Harker was last, talking about Special Operations, the division that he runs. I had no idea how many things fall under Special Ops that relate to the community:
Community Problem Oriented Policing (CPOP), School Resource Officers (SRO), the DARE and GREAT programs (anti-drug and anti-gang), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Home and Business security surveys and the Volunteer Program.
Then there are the police focused aspects of Special Ops:
Tactical Patrol, Knock and Talks (door-to-door conversations), Search Warrants, DuMeg Liaison (undercover narcotics unit), Informant (aka snitch) Management, Asset Forfeitures of vehicles, money, property

The Volunteer program sounded really interesting so I stayed after class and talked to Sgt. Harker about it. Not only would you work at community events (like the 4th of July and summer concert series) but you could also help direct traffic at DUI roadblocks, drive the squad cars to get their oil changed, be "extras" in tactical operation drills and a whole bunch of other really cool stuff. Harker was glad I was so interested and he's bringing me an application next week to fill out. I'll have to go through another background check and this time be fingerprinted since I would be issued official police department credentials and a volunteer "uniform". I'm really excited about this!

Next week the entire 3 hour class will be on Investigations. Apparently we're going to be focusing on one infamous local case from start to finish. Sounds great to me!

agt_spooky: (Police badge)

Last night I started up my next session of my Citizen Police Academy (CPA) classes. This time I'm in Carol Stream, the town that I live in. This is a long session - 11 weeks. Which is fine by me! This is the fifth CPA class I've now taken, in five different towns. I feel like I could teach the class at this point, I'm so familiar with police procedure! :-) But at the same time, towns do things differently, which is what makes these classes so interesting.

This is also a large class - 24 students. Only 4 of which are women. This is the most lopsided class I've been in. It's normally closer to 50/50 men to women. So I'm going to have to step up my game to be noticed and taken seriously! Trust me, that won't be a problem. :-)

As with all of the classes I've taken, the first night is pretty basic, an overview of the entire police department, how it's structured, etc. We had the Chief of Police as our first speaker who gave us some stats about the town - 40,000 residents. On average 5% are criminals. So we've got 2,000 of them running around my town. Kinda scary. Especially when there are only FIVE patrol officers per shift. The Chief also broke down the procedure for applying to be an officer. On average 300 people apply each year for 1-2 open spots. Your name remains on the list for 3 years. The academy (downstate in Springfield, IL) is 12 weeks in length. After which the rookie spends another 15 weeks riding with their Field Training Officer. The rookies are on probation for 24 months and always start on the night shift.

We have a total of 63 officers. I asked how many were women. We have 7 female officers. Two of which are corporals. They are also number 1 and 2 in line for promotion to sergeant. One of them will become the first female sergeant EVER in the village. Woot! Female power!

Our second speaker was the Deputy Chief in charge of the Patrol Division. He talked to us about how the village is divided up in Zones (my house is in Zone 1) and how the officers are always assigned to the same zone to patrol so that they become intimately familiar with the area and the residents. Which I think is a great idea.

We talked about body cameras since they're all in the news lately. Currently Illinois law prohibits the recording of anyone's voice (Eavesdropping Law) so right now body cameras can't be worn. But the law is currently being rewritten to allow them.

He broke down the top five calls/arrests in the town in 2014: drug paraphernalia (202), marijuana possession (283), domestic battery (295), theft (304) and number one was DUI (345). Our village is known for being the toughest on DUI than any village in the entire STATE. We've won awards for it.

Total number of 911 calls in 2014: 10,994. Total number of officer generated calls/stops: 27,853. Making it a total of 38,847 incidents the police responded to in my town in 2014. Yikes!

We talked about the officer's uniforms and weapons. A kevlar vest will NOT stop a rifle round OR a knife blade. All officers carry a Sig Sauer P226 handgun. The same weapon allows them to share ammunition if needed. Most villages allow officers to carry whatever kind of gun they want, which I think is a bad idea for the reason I just mentioned - not able to share ammo in a situation. Strangely enough, my town does not use tasers! Every other town I've been in has them. We also do not have a K9 unit or a dedicated gun range. Both of which are a shame. A kevlar vest, riot shield and helmet and an unloaded Sig Sauer were passed around for each of us to hold. Sig's are SO much better than Glocks!

We ended the night on a cool note - we got scheduled for our ride-alongs! We thought we wouldn't be able to do them until after graduation in April. But they're starting them up next weekend! I am scheduled for Saturday, February 28th from 8:00 pm - 2:00 am. Weekend night shift! Yes! Bring on the action!

Next week we talk about Interrogations, Social Services and Special Operations.

agt_spooky: (Bloomingdale badge)

I got a couple more pictures from my police academy class emailed to me that I thought I'd share. This was the night on Forensics and Evidence Gathering where we got to try and do finger printing, where I pulled the one print that the instructors went bonkers over. :-)

Don't we all look like complete dorks rubbing our thumbs on our foreheads to get oil on them before we put a print on the glass bottle.

And here I am dusting the bottle. Let me tell you, this was HARD. All the TV crime shows make it look so simple, they get a perfect lift every time. Yeah, NOT. Fingerprinting is an art form, let me tell you.

agt_spooky: (Bloomingdale badge)

Gosh, hard to believe that last night was my final citizens police academy class. Seven weeks have just flown by!

Before graduation we had our final speaker, Detective Burrell, who took us through Interviews and Interrogations.

There are five different categories that a detective can specialize in: Homicide, Burglary, Financial Fraud, Sex Offense and Juvenile.

The interrogation room is completely bare (table, chairs, no windows). The detectives minimize what they put on the table (aka paperwork) because it's distracting and the suspect wants to read it. They've discovered if the suspect doesn't eat or drink what's offered they're most likely guilty. Also, a guilty person will actually fall asleep in the room while they're waiting. It's perfectly acceptable to lie to a suspect about what evidence you have against them but they have to be careful about doing that. If the police say they have fingerprints and the suspect knows he was wearing gloves, they'll call your bluff and you've lost the confession.

A "show up" is a physical line up in person where the victim or witness tries to identify the suspect
A "line up" are photographs that are shown to a victim or witness

The good cop/bad cop routine is actually used! Not just something you see on TV. And it works! Also cell phone records and social media are used all the time to catch people. Especially Facebook.

I asked if there was an interview/interrogation he did that stood out in his mind as being memorable. I was expecting a humorous story but instead it was sad. We had a murder in our town of a small child a few years ago. It was horrible. He caught the case and did the interview. Just listening to what this man did to this child was sickening but you cannot show any emotion while in the room with the suspect. And inside he was just so disgusted and torn up. That case really took a toll on him.

Then came our pizza party and graduation. The Chief of Police was back along with several of our instructors. The Chief went to each of us and asked us to say what we enjoyed about the class, if there was anything we would've liked to have done. One thing that we all said was that we wished the class was longer! They're thinking about doing a Police Academy 2 with different topics for those of us who have completed this session. That would be awesome!

We got our certificates then from the Chief and the Watch Commander along with a totally cool pin that looks like a little police badge. We also got a book and a coffee mug. Then we had cake! We had individual photos taken as we got our certificates and then a class group photo. Those are going to be emailed to us soon. I'll post them when I get them.

Hope all of you enjoyed my posts these last several weeks! And maybe learned a few things about the police department. :-)

agt_spooky: (Bloomingdale badge)

Had a fantastic citizen police academy class last night, the one I'd been waiting for - Crime Scene Processing and Evidence Gathering.

We all laughed when we walked in the room because there on the floor was a tape outline of a "body". Ha! Then along two walls were all of these cases full of all of their equipment. Holy crap they have a lot of gear! It was like CSI come to life. So cool.

In just one case alone there was: chalk, gloves, compass, drug kits, fingerprint dust and brushes, feather duster, magnifying glass, angle meter (for bullet trajectory), scissors, evidence bags, tape, UV flashlight, screwdriver, zip ties, casting putty (for tool marks) and a super glue fuming wand. There were other things too but I couldn't write fast enough!

Four things that an evidence tech always has in their own pockets - tape measure, pocket knife, a black Sharpie and an SD card for a camera.

Evidence is: money, drugs, blood and body fluids, spent cartridge casings, weapons, fingerprints, DNA, trace evidence (fibers, etc) and footwear impressions (the most overlooked evidence)

We learned that cast off blood spatter only happens after the second time a person is struck. We also learned that the yellow police tape you see is simply to keep people away. The red tape is what marks off the primary scene closer in. Evidence techs also document use of force - taking photos of a suspects taser wounds or if they have any cuts on them from a struggle, etc. Evidence collected from cases such as homicide, sexual assault, arson and forgery are kept forever. Most other types of cases the evidence is kept for 25 years.

After the presentation we got down to the good stuff - hands on fingerprint collecting! We each had our own collection kit consisting of a pair of gloves, a brush, powder, collection cards and the sticky clear plastic lifts. We had a glass jar that we were to put our own fingerprints on then dust with powder and try and get a useable lift. Holy crap that was HARD! Either the print was smudged or you used too much powder or too little powder. Then trying to lay the sticky film over it without smudging it and using a certain pressure to both push down and then peel it off…this is an art form people. This is most certainly not CSI where they get a perfect lift in a matter of seconds. Or take a picture of the print with their phone!

Needless to say, we were all struggling mightily with this. After about four tries I finally had the most perfect print. You could see everything. I was so happy. And then I tried to lift it off. And only half of it came off. [sigh] Just as I pulled it off and stuck it down on the collection card the one tech stopped next to me to see how I was doing. I lamented I'd only gotten half and held it up to show him. OMG, I kid you not he went ape shit over it! He called the other tech over and she was floored, too. They were both like, "This is the best print we've ever seen someone lift in class. This would absolutely go straight to the lab for processing. Fabulous job!" They were seriously gushing over it, and me, and I'm like, it's really that good? LOL! See for yourself:

Hard to believe but next week is my last class and then graduation. :-( Seven weeks have flown by! I'm hoping there's opportunities for us after we graduate to do some volunteer work for the police department because I'd love to continue on in some way.

agt_spooky: (Bloomingdale badge)

Last night's topic at my citizen's police academy class was firearms and firearm safety. Yes, we got to play with guns. :-)

First thing we went over were the types of weapons that our police department uses:
• Smith and Wesson (Sam? Dean? Is that you? *g*) .38 revolver
• Glock G17 semi-automatic 9mm pistol (#1 gun for law enforcement in the entire U.S.)
• Remington 870 shotgun (going by the wayside, mainly used for blowing apart doors now to gain entry)
• AR-15 semi-automatic rifle (accurate up to 500 yards)
• Remington 700 sniper rifle .30 (politically correct term is "police marksman" not "sniper")

Three of the guns were there for us to look at and handle - the revolver, the AR-15 and the sniper rifle. What I found surprising was that you think of revolvers as this little gun, but this thing was more than hefty and quite large. And for the AR-15 being mostly plastic it was darn heavy! Loved the sniper rifle because it reminded me of my own .22 rifle that I own. But with a much more wicked scope!

We also went over the FOID cards (Firearm Owner Identification) of which I have one myself. Illinois is now a "concealed carry" state and some people mistakenly think that the FOID card automatically grants you that privilege. No, you have to go through a 16 hour class and then apply for a concealed carry permit card. I for one am not happy that IL passed this law and I'm thankful that most of the retail stores/restaurants have it clearly marked that NO firearms are permitted on the premises. One guy in class has a concealed carry permit and he admitted that he rarely carries his gun because he can't take it inside anywhere. Good! I don't need to be grocery shopping next to someone with a .38 strapped to their side!

Next we went over firearm safety rules that all officers follow:
• Assume all guns are loaded
• Don't point the muzzle at anything that you're not willing to destroy
• Keep your finger off the trigger until you set your sights on your target
• Be sure of your target and beyond

Then there were the marksmanship basics:
• Stance (stand straightforward but not locked in position - always be ready to move)
• Presentation of weapon (don't windmill your arm around pulling your gun out - it's straight up and straight out)
• Grip (tight and high - gun can easily jam if you grip the handle too low - the recoil won't eject the spent casing)
• Breathing (don't hold your breath - shoot at the bottom of your breath as you exhale)

The last thing we did was watch several training videos that the new recruits go through. It's called F.A.T.S. - Firearms Training Simulator. It's where the officer stands in front of a large screen with a laser gun and must react to the situation presented to them (Shoot/Don't Shoot senarios). I was bummed that we weren't able to try this ourselves, as I did this in a previous class and it was amazing. It's where I got the nickname Dirty Harriet for shooting one armed man in the head twice and another right in the groin. [snerk]

All in all another informative night! Next week is going to be great. We're doing crime scene processing which will be hands on. Can't wait!

agt_spooky: (Bloomingdale badge)

It's taser time! LOL! This week in my citizen police academy class we talked about Use of Force / Liability / Defensive Tactics

The first part on use of force and liability was a lot of information and a long Powerpoint presentation. It wasn't boring, by any means. Two hours went by in the blink of an eye! But it was mainly focused on the different levels of force, the statues by which officers are held to and the legal ramifications/civil rights/liability issues in the aftermath. A lot of…definitions.

Here are a couple things of interest, though:

I liked this quote from our instructor: "Police work is not very pretty" And it's true. They see people on their worst days.

Some felons will paint the tips of their REAL guns bright orange to try and fool the officers that they're carrying a toy gun to lower the officer's guard so that they can then shoot them. That just makes me sick and so angry.

We all hear the terms "battery" and "assault". Do you know the difference? "Battery" is doing actual physical harm to a person, usually with a weapon, but it can be your fists, feet, etc. "Assault" is an intent to harm, usually a verbal threat.

Illinois is a mandatory arrest state for domestic abuse. The victim does not have to press charges. The state does it for them and takes away the abuser if there is probable cause.

Then we moved on to Defensive Tactics. This was pretty cool. The instructor started off with showing us the proper procedure for handcuffing a suspect so that he can't try and either pull away or use his arms or hands to assault the officer. Now I have tiny little wrists. So I asked if they use those zip-tie plastic cuffs in instances like that. He said that usually no, the regular cuffs will actually close down very small. Or they could possibly put both of my wrists in one cuff. At this point he then held the cuffs out to me and with a smile said, "Here, want to try?" Damn, I really wanted to take him up on it! LOL!

Then we had two officers demonstrate nearly a dozen different take-down moves. Some simple, some complicated. Now I know this was totally inappropriate, but being a slasher is hard-wired into my brain so I couldn't stop the thoughts that popped into it. I SO wished I could've been taking pictures, because these two good looking guys were basically enacting every possible gay sex position you could come up with as they wrestled around on the ground and sat on top of one another, etc. The one officer even said, as he lay on his back with his legs wrapped around the other officer's waist - "This is my favorite position". I swear to God! LOL! Yeah, I got more out of that section of class than anyone else, I guarantee it!

We ended the night with an impromptu demonstration of how a taser works. Class went late (we were already past 9:30 pm) but I didn't care because this was pretty freaking cool. I mean, I've never been up close and personal when a taser gets fired. And it's LOUD! It's like this really big firecracker going off as the darts eject. And all this…stuff shoots out, too, like confetti. Everything took everyone in class by surprise and we all jumped.

Turns out the "confetti" is actually very small paper dots that have a number on it - the number of the taser. These little tiny pieces of paper are collected as evidence to show which taser was fired. Which I thought was kind of odd, since it's completely obvious when one is fired since you can't put the darts back in and you've got 25 feet of wire hanging out. So I didn't understand the point of the confetti. The taser itself also has a mini computer that registers and records the date and time the taser was fired. Again, for evidence purposes.

The darts (which are larger and longer than you think) don't actually have to penetrate your skin to work. They can snag in your clothes, too. It's all about the "arc". When the darts are fired they shoot out in different directions. Because they need distance from each other to work properly. If one hits you in the shoulder and the other in your leg, that's perfect because the electricity now has a very large arc to run through your body. If the darts are too close together it's not as effective. Oh, and if they do penetrate your skin? It hurts a LOT worse pulling them out than when they went in! And even though you can only fire the the darts out once, as long as they're still attached to the person, the officer can pull the trigger as many times as needed to deliver the electric charge.

So yeah, another interesting, informative class! Next week is Firearms. Sweet!

agt_spooky: (Bloomingdale badge)

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.


agt_spooky: (Default)agt_spooky

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