Sunday, June 22, 2008

Author Goes Criminal

Two days ago I received three traffic citations, was tested for DUI, got frisked and handcuffed. No, I’m not really a scofflaw but was helping as a volunteer for police training. Last fall I graduated from the citizen’s police academy in my community, and the police department asked for volunteers for new officer training. So at eight in the morning we gathered to stage domestic violence, vagrant and traffic stop scenarios. I was the driver for a simulated traffic stop. I acted like I was out-of-it, tried to get out of the car, called my lawyer on my cell phone, didn’t have my registration and had an expired insurance form. They trainees called in the information on their radios, checked me out and in one case found an outstanding warrant on my fake id (I’m not 24 years old). I learned how an officer needs to approach the driver’s side of the car, standing behind the driver to block the door if the person tries to get out and staying out of range if the driver reaches for a weapon. They were trained to ask, then demand and then take action if the driver became belligerent. Police work entails a lot of repetition with the infrequent dangerous encounter. They have to be ready for normal people and the crazies so I had a chance to represent both.

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