Monday, February 23, 2009

Week Seven, Back to the Class Room

Well, sure enough I've endured another week... unfortunately it's all classroom from here. I swear the other classes have it a bit better with their break out weeks later in their sessions. Ah well, at least I'll finish first.

Anyway, things went pretty well this week. A lot of pretty decent topics that kept my interest so I guess I can't really complain (I will, however, during the two week of Criminal Law).

Monday 02/16/09
0800-1150 EMS Awareness
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 EMS Awareness
1700-1800 Dinner

Monday we hit the classroom back in our lovely khaki uniforms. We spent the entire day with a local helicopter-bound paramedic who works down in the Plainfield area most of the time. He was a bit dry but definitely taught us a ton of things we can do in emergency situations. Coming from South Bend I usually don't have to worry about medics being twenty minutes away but a lot of me classmates do - regardless, I know there will be times when I do beat the medics by quite some time and if a victim needs assistance now I need to be able to give it. The class was a bit like first aid training but to a larger scale; I guess the best way to say it was first aid training may use (thankfully) once or twice in their lives while someone in a career like policing may need to use it once or twice a month. We covered cuts, burns, drowning, freezing, gun shot wounds, and oh so much more to a more in-depth extent then when I got my CPR/First Aid certifications last year.

Tuesday 02/17/09
0700-0800 Breakfast
0800-0850 Physical Training
0900-1150 EMS Awareness
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1350 EMS Awareness
1400-1450 1% Biker Gangs
1500-1650 Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement
1700-1800 Dinner

We started the day by going back to mandatory PT... Woo! It was pretty clear who had been keeping active during break out weeks and who had not. However, I think the DIs were a bit more impressed than they had expected! We then finished our morning with our EMS Awareness training which went pretty quickly. We watched a bunch of videos showing us what to do in all of the possible situations we had talked about on Monday. After lunch we had a quick study session in which the instructor let us know which topics "may" appear on our test. After that we took an hour learning about the illegal biker gangs that are prevalent in America (specifically this region of the country) which was pretty sweet. The difference between street gangs and biker gangs are astounding and truthfully I would have never figured they could be as sophisticated as some are. The rest of the day we spent learning Indiana alcohol laws with a very small focus on tobacco. It wasn't bad but it seemed kind of repetitive. My girlfriend came to see me all the way from South Bend and brought us all food... I didn't even expect it, she just said she was on her way (while she was already in Kokomo). Somehow I can't imagine she's seen so many smiles as the day she brought hamburgers for my deprived classmates.

Wednesday 02/18/09
0700-0800 Breakfast
0800-1050 Report Writing
1100-1150 Community Policing
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 Community Policing
1700-1800 Dinner

Wednesday morning reared it's ugly head and no one seemed to be in a good mood. We all headed to class after breakfast and sat down expecting a pretty dull morning of report writing. When the Basic Course Commander walked in that attitude changed... "As of 1900 hours you have three hours of Liberty" - I don't remember much til 1900 when I enjoyed as many buffalo wings as I could stomach, but I'll try my best to recall the day. Report writing went by pretty quickly but it was, unfortunately, the same report writing class I took as a Cadet Officer. The thought of Liberty, however, kept me going strong! The rest of the day we learned about community policing, which I've always been a big advocate for, which was pretty neat. I got to talk a lot about our department as we have a lot to offer (Citizens Academy, VIPs, Explorer Program, etc.) which smaller departments don't - not that I like to toot my own horn but it was nice to get to participate a bit. Dinner came around and we all ate a bowl of jello - I hit the gym and at 1900 exactly I was on my way to get some wings!

Thursday 02/19/09
0700-0800 Breakfast
0800-0850 Physical Training
0900-1150 Domestic Violence
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 Conflict Management
1700-1800 Dinner

I still felt full when I went to breakfast, which was probably not as healthy as I imagined but I didn't care. Even going to PT I didn't care if I threw up... I felt good. Renewed spirits were within us all even as we had a fairly intense PT session. After PT we had a class on domestic violence calls which are ever growing in this state. We learned proper arrest procedures, how to address suspects, and how to comfort victims. The afternoon was an extension of the morning with a focus on all conflicts. The day went by fairly quickly and I was happy... and not that I want to get fat but as I returned to my room for the night I had a text from my cousin who lives nearby stating she was bringing us chicken lasagna... mmm.

Friday 02/20/09
0700-0800 Breakfast
0800-0950 Hate Crimes
1000-1150 Stress
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 Terrorism

Friday morning came by nice and quick. All in all for the first week back in the classroom we had no complaints. We had a quick lesson on hate crimes and how they differ from regular crimes (which again, seemed obvious) and what Indiana laws have been enacted to protect potential victims. We finished the morning with our favorite instructor, "Dr. Love" as we call him, telling us about stressors in the police career and how to deal with him. I really enjoyed the class because I know in my career I may just have something that burns me out... maybe once or twice... and I'd like to be able to recover as quick as possible. The afternoon seemed like it dragged on forever as the FBI taught us about terrorism. I think it felt like forever just because I took a terrorism course in college and at the police department. Or maybe because it was Friday. The last FBI Agent, however, was a kind man and let us out thirty minutes early.


Next week we have a pretty interesting schedule set up... including our chemical agent exposure on Tuesday. I'm sure that will be just wonderful!

Monday, February 16, 2009

STOPS

"...I can appreciate that, but I'm still going to need to see that driver's license."

I'd have to say STOPS week has been the best by far - with that being said, I'm not currently enjoying being back in the classroom. STOPS, or Strategies and Tactics Of Patrol Stops, focuses on the "routine" traffic stop and how to talk to the individuals we meet. Our schedule looked was as follows:

Monday 02/09/08 - Friday 02/13/08
0700-0800 Breakfast
0800-1150 STOPS
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 STOPS
1700-1800 Dinner


Monday we had our lecture on Verbal Judo. For those unfamiliar with Verbal Judo its the "art" of deescalating a situation using words rather than physical force OR providing the proper verbal communications that will allow an officer to justifiably use physical force. The goal of Verbal Judo was stated as "gaining voluntary compliance" - and when you didn't get that, doing what was fair and necessary to gain compliance. After learning the steps of Verbal Judo (which included a lot of acknowledgement from violators that you may not agree with, hence the quote for this week) we began to practice it upon each other. We got out of class early for the day which was nice... except for hearing "I can appreciate that, but..." for the rest of the night.

Tuesday we had our lecture on STOPS tactics which was fairly interesting. Mixed in with the lecture were many videos of officers involved in accidental vehicular assaults while approaching vehicles as well as officer involved shootings. While not the videos a young officer would want to see it was indeed worthwhile; even when things go right a situation can go bad in an instant - you learn quite a bit from that. Complacency kills, the quote that you never forget, definitely held true during the lecture. We even watched the video of SBPD Sgt. Ray Wolfenbarger which hit pretty close to home.

On Wednesday we began practicing our STOPS skills on each other. We would do mock vehicle stops for the entire day (ending quite early) playing both roles of police officers and violators. We practiced the various types of vehicle approaches and ended the day with the traditional "felony stop." We had a lot of fun but learned quite a bit as well. We ended the day with a study session as our exam would be on Thursday.

Thursday morning we practiced more stops outside but added a new element: air soft. With Glock air soft guns the violator had the opportunity (but didn't always) to attack us at any time. The catch was that the officers did not have air soft weapons but red plastic guns instead. The purpose of this drill was to teach us to take cover rather than simply freeze up. After lunch we performed our practicum and also took our written exam. I got a 100% in my tactics and a 96% on my exam... can't say I can complain. The rest of the afternoon we watched a few more videos of officers in shootings except this time they ended a bit happier (notably, no officer deaths).

Friday was simply amazing. We all got to run two SIMunition scenarios during "routine" traffic stops. SIMunitions are 9mm bullets that are plastic filled with colored soap - they hurt just a bit more than your standard paint ball gun - that shoot from actual [altered] firearms. Both of my scenarios went very well and we had a blast. During the downtime we all watched police movies which was pretty good too: Hot Fuzz in the morning and Super Troopers in the afternoon. We got out early and thanked our guest instructors, went in to clean up a bit, and headed out for the weekend!


Of course the down side... STOPS was our last breakout week which means my final nine weeks are classroom oriented. I can't complain I guess, I am almost have way done! See you next week!.

Monday, February 9, 2009

EVOC

Sometimes, you just gotta dig deep to find things. To know your limits you have to make mistakes. And sometimes, just sometimes, you need to earn 100 push ups from hitting traffic cones with a car at 80 mph to learn a lesson.

This week was EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operation Course) and it was a blast! All I can say is something about driving at high speeds and pulling "racing" maneuvers is pretty thrilling, I can't lie. Our schedule looked like this:

Monday 02/02/09 - Friday 02/06/09
0700-0800 Breakfast
0800-1150 EVOC
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 EVOC
1700-1800 Dinner

Monday we spent most of our day out in the EVOC classroom doing our basic lecture. We learned the terms (most of which are derived from professional racing) and tactics that police officers often have to use while driving in emergency situations. Its very unique that our profession allows us (and often demands) that we drive a certain way. I knew that high speeds and quick turns would be part of the job but I never realized that there would be too much method to the madness. Clearly I was a bit wrong. We finished out the day setting up our two courses for Tuesday and did our daily vehicle check ups. By the evening, however, I wasn't feeling to well and would actually go to bed at 1730... which is why last week my update was extremely late.

Tuesday had a slow start to it because of the snow down here in Plainfield. Never before have I seen people freak out about a few inches of snow, but then again I realize not all people are used to a foot of lake effect snow in one night. Because we had to wait for the course to be cleaned off A Squad got to do extra morning PT which was the hardest we have had yet. Naturally, being A Squad we kicked butt and went straight out to EVOC. Out on the track we were introduced to all of our guest instructors and shoved into our cars. Ballistic vests, gun belts, and helmets all changed the dynamics of driving... a lot more realistic for the work environment than jeans and a hoodie.

Most of the week went really well (I struggled with one course on Wenesday, earning 100 push ups by the end of it). I had trouble all week to keep my eyes from tearing because I was so sick I went to bed by 1900 and didn't break my fever til Friday morning. Its also a bit difficult to explain a lot of the driving aspects in written word without the lovely pictures and diagrams we were provided... so I'll unfortunately need to cut most of the week out. I really wish I could explain it in more detail!

Friday morning came by and it was time for our written test. I had passed all of my practical driving courses and was pretty stoked. Thursday and Friday I had an excellent instructor from Elkhart City PD who could really handle a car. I'm no professional racer now, but I'd say I come a bit close :-P

After taking our tests we ran a few more courses to challenge ourselves and headed to lunch. We finished up driving afterwards and then watched a few movies on the liability we must consider when using our lights and sirens... the slightest mistake can affect many lives forever, including our own. But, after getting that message across we were out by 1530 and I was on my way home!

Next week I'll write a bit more, we're focusing on STOPS and Verbal Judo. I just started a new work out routine via CrossFit and I'm exhausted! See you next week!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Defensive Tactics Week

First things first.... OWWWWW... DT hurts! Secondly, I never imagined that I could have my butt kicked so many times over and still have the urge to get back up for another beating. Also, this week they had no oatmeal (yeah, real disappointing) but actually started to feed us edible "eggs" and other breakfast foods. I even had a couple of warm meals as I figured a chicken breast couldn't be too bad. Of course, I was wrong and after I got done choking the meals down my stomach started to pay the price. Yum!

As I stated last week A Squad had Defensive Tactics all week (which means B Squad was in Firearms, shoveling snow). Our daily schedule looked like this:

Monday 01/26/09 - Friday 01/30/09
0700-0800 Breakfast
0800-1150 Defensive Tactics
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 Defensive Tactics
1700-1800 Dinner

Monday morning we started things off with learning proper fighting techniques starting with simple blocking and movie up to punches and kicks. We then, after learning every technique, did what would become our daily warm up which involved punching, kicking, blocking, and falling to the ground. A few moans and groans later we were on our way to learning unarmed take downs and the ever-so-popular arm bars. Then, near the end of the day we all had to demonstrate (with full force) how to properly distract an opponent with a knee to the common peroneal (the nerve in the outside of your leg, the one you hit walking into a table) - if you failed to hit your partner with satisfying results, you all got to go again. I got hit twice and for a couple of days couldn't quite walk straight. Me and my buddy Joe were partners for most of the week, which was a relief because he was a jail officer for two and a half years; he seems to have an extensive background when it comes to taking people down. Trust me. I "benefited" from learning from his experience.

Tuesday we were to report with our duty belts on to start our hand cuffing right before lunch. We learned a few different styles of hand cuffing such as PPCT, Koga, and Whitesell. Each style teaches the officer a different way to handle an individual you want to cuff whether they are cooperative or not, and it's safe to say each style has it's perks. After lunch we learned a couple more styles for handcuffing and got out a bit early. B Squad had been complaining all week about how bad Defensive Tactics was but truthfully we really liked it. Well, for the most part.

Wednesday morning we finished up our hand cuffing techniques and then had to perform them all for the instructor's approval. In the afternoon we started focusing more on actual fighting than simple take downs. We practiced sparring from the standing position and then changed gears when we went to ground fighting. I had never had any real ground fighting experience (except in a couple of incidents as a Cadet) as I had helped coach regular boxing for the PD so I definitely enjoyed it. We focused primarily on the ways to get off the ground should we happen to be the ones on our backs. Near the end of the day we combined our take down techniques into our fighting skills, which ended with a few of us getting shoulders torqued the wrong way. Oh well, guess its better to learn this way than on the street.

Thursday morning came around a bit rougher than usual. We were all starting to get sore but none of us were complaining like B Squad was (Scott removed, seeing as whoever his partners were they definitely didn't hold back). In the morning we focused on impact weapons and would eventually start attacking each other... I earned a few bruises and cuts from this one, but nothing too bad. Even today I still have two good sized bruises on my right arm but it's nothing that kept me from moving around. The afternoon, however, was a bit more dreaded. We ended the day with a full effort ground fighting drill in which you would fight your opponent for three minutes using any technique you knew, learned here or not, in an attempt to overcome the other person. Once a person would tap out into submission you'd restart the fight... how lovely! After the first three minute session, which doesn't seem like a lot until your actually fighting full force, you move immediately on to the next person. I fought Joe first who mostly had the upper hand; he got me into a couple of pretty good choke holds. It's a good thing he was paying attention because I was too stubborn to tap out. My next two matches were great, pretty evenly matched and I ended up having a lot of fun with them. My last match, however, I ended up over turning my body when flipping my partner and he took my head to the ground with him - for the entire weekend I couldn't really move my neck or right arm, but all seems to be fine now. When I got back to my room from dinner Scott was already in bed. He was starting to get sick which, as of this week, spread to me and Keith.

Friday was pretty laid back. In the morning we reported to DT in full duty uniform and performed all of the take down and hand cuffing techniques we had learned during the week. After wrestling around a bit we were given some time to shower and study for our exam before lunch. We took our exam, which I got a 94% because I misspelled a few of the pressure points (how lame) but I didn't care at that point! I was focused on getting out at 1520 like B Squad did. However, come 1700 we were finally getting out... none of us were happy, but I guess we can't really complain as we weren't promised to get out early.


Next week is EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operation Course) but unfortunately me and Keith have been dying from unknown disease Scott brought us. Last night we were actually in bed at 1730, hence why I didn't update. Thankfully, after a day in the snow with EVOC I'm feeling a bit better. See you next week!