About a month ago I enrolled in the Plymouth Police Departments Citizens Academy. I have not had that much interest in law enforcement before, but became involved because I wanted to see what happens behind the blue lights and sirens.
It all started because I was at a function where one of the police Captains was talking about a story when he was a new police officer and shot his foot accidentally. I interjected in the conversation that I had not shot a gun or even held a gun before. ( I didn't count the carnival or fair where you shoot water into the clowns mouth & blow up a balloon). The Captain then went on to say that they were starting a citizens academy the following week, and that during the course, they would be going to the riffle range & shooting all of the police weapons. WOW ! I got really excited. He then went onto say that the class was full. I said, really? You don't even have room for "the Chair" ( Japan Reference). He said to talk to his boss, the Chief.
As many of my friends know, I went to Japan in October. It was a delegation of 11 people from Plymouth. Among those who went was the Chief of Police for Plymouth. At this same event where I had been speaking to the Captain, the Chief was also in attendance. So I spoke to the Chief. He laughed, and said, we always have room for "the Chair". I later found out that the class was not yet full, but close as they let me in and 2 others after me! (So no special treatment here!)
I had to fill out an application to be accepted. Apparently they do not accept everyone as they do a background check. The day before the class started I still had not turned in my application. I got an email asking me if I was still going to attend the class. I went down to the station & dropped off my application. Chief told me if I received a call that "The Class was FULL", really meant that I did not pass the background check. Later that day I received a call from the Chief, I had a moment of panic, but be called for another matter, WHEW !!! I PASSED. ( not that I was worried ! :) )
So now we are 4 weeks into the class and as part of the class we are able to do a "ride along" During class #3 we had the speciality units come in and speak to us. Plymouth has a Bicycle unit ( summertime especially good), Mounted Unit, Motor Cycle Unit, K-9, and Marine Units. I wanted to do my ride along with the Mounted Unit, but everyone laughed & said a resounding NO. Someday ! I want to go and see those beautiful horses. Plymouth has an agreement with the County Sheriffs Department & they share responsibility for the horses, but they are self funded and are at no cost to the Plymouth Police Department.
The K-9 demonstration was impressive. It is amazing what those dogs can do and their accuracy in finding illegal substances.
So this past Friday night ( 4/23/11) was my ride along.
I was assigned to car # 16. We were in a floater car & cruised around downtown Plymouth and North Plymouth. My hood.
The night was pretty quiet. Rainy. He said sometimes the rain keeps people inside from doing crazy things. Who knows?
First call we responded to was a homeless woman setting up a tent. So sad. I did not realize we had that many homeless people in Plymouth. Mostly men.
Second call was a man that was being aggressive in a hotel parking lot. He had dementia and his caregiver was concerned because he had taken off & she could not find him. Officers finally found him. I stayed in the car.
Woman pulled over for not using turn signal & brake light was out. Officer gave her a verbal warning. He said his pet peeve was people talking on the phone. Apparently when he walked up to her car she was chatting along. Very rude! (Note to self, do not be rude to police officers, they do not like that !)
It was basically a pretty quiet night for us. That was until about a half an hour before my "shift" was to end. A call came over the radio that there was fight going on between individuals and that there was mention of guns being involved. I heard the address. Whoa, wait a second, that is in MY neighborhood!! We were in West Plymouth. The Officer put on his blue lights and sirens, and we were off to the call. OMGosh ! I do not think I have ever gone that fast in a car before in Plymouth on roads that are not highways. I looked over at the dash and we were going about 90 MPH. I closed my eyes and for a brief second said a simple prayer. I was not worried about the Officers skills as a driver. He was very confident and was focused on getting us where we needed to be. I, on the other hand, was worried about the people or cars that might happen to be in our way. Needless to say we made it there fully intact. We, along with 8 other police cars. Since it is right next door to Kingston ( next town over), there were officers from there as well, so all 9 cars were not from Plymouth!
This is happening 4 houses away from MY home.
There are Officers everywhere. Even the K-9 unit is here. I am in the car. I text Steve and let him know what is going on & to NOT bring the dog out for a walk.
For about 20 minutes the Officers are taking statements from people. I see them doing some searches on persons.
The Officer comes back to our car. He reports that there was fighting going on, but they could find any weapons. One of the kids that was searched though did have a knife. It was supposedly a birthday party gone foul when some of the people were leaving.
Now I know. Apparently that house has had a lot of police action. I feel very safe in my neighborhood. This is not going to make a difference. It is just good knowledge to have and to be mindful of what is happening close to me.
We then went back to the station & he dropped me off to get my car. I drove back home with my car on those same streets that just 45 minutes prior we had had BLUE LIGHTS and SIRENS going 90 MPH. In my beetle bug, I drove well below the speed limit. I had enough of the fast car pursuit for one evening. I had already had an enormous respect for our Men & Women on the Police force, but tonight I gained a greater understanding of what they do, and how important and sometimes dangerous their life can be while in the service of our community.
Riffle Range in 2 weeks !