Experiencing Life

When we get to the final days of our life, researchers have discovered that our most memorable moments are those we’ve spent with the ones we love and novel experiences. I wonder if novel or new experiences spent with those we care about could be ideal. As I’ve been meandering through middle age, I’ve been game for new experiences and I’m happy to report they are so much better than watching another episode of the Bachelor.

One of those experiences came from a dear friend who asked me to join her in a community opportunity. I had no idea local police departments offer a citizen’s police academy. The ten-week session has been offered every year and gives participants a vast perspective of the responsibilities and duties of a police officer. As an enthusiastic fan of real crime shows, I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of getting an inside look at the way a police department operated. What I hadn’t counted on was the in-depth look at so many aspects of law enforcement from the inside. The officers in charge of our class made it so interesting and fun, no one wanted to miss our meetings. They set up a catered meal before every class and planned an exciting schedule with special speakers, hands-on experience, and the chance to try out several roles police officers live daily.

Some of my favorite classes are still vivid in my mind today. At the top is the ride along. I signed up for a spot late on a Friday night. The officer who took me along taught me all about his routine through the area he covered and how he responded to calls. I got to see calls firsthand when dispatch communicated a disturbance. My officer floored it, and I cannot lie – it was a thrill to accelerate with the force of a Charger through downtown streets.


Observing a suspected DUI offense came next that revealed how the late-night party crowd responds to an interruption in their plans. The most shocking aspect of the night came when I tagged along in the emergency department with an irate man arrested for a drug offence and several other charges. In case you didn’t know, I can confirm that someone high and out of their mind can be especially violent and uncooperative even with the medical staff attempting to care for them.



The equipment used by law enforcement was absolutely fascinating. We explored an armored vehicle that is usually stowed away for emergencies, their motorcycle is ready for situations that need easy maneuvering, and drones are used to find a range of people or objects lost or on the run. I saw the rooms where experts unravel the communications in cell phones and computers to uncover the truth and the evidence rooms that comprise every article tied to a suspected crime.


Driving a police car and learning to “pull someone over” is at the top of my list of memorable moments without a doubt. Nervous as a stray cat, I climbed in the driver’s seat and for the first time in my life floored a car without fear of the police officer next to me. I just didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the rest of the citizens in my class by crashing into the car I pursued. Thankfully I fulfilled the objective, and no vehicles or people were harmed during my chase.


Another awesome experience was the night on the shooting range. I actually got to shoot a target with an AR-15. I am in awe of the strength needed to handle weapons, especially under tremendous stress. Although I hit my target, I am certain I’m not cut out to chase or protect the public with a weapon. The virtual training program we visited ensured me I’d likely make the wrong decision or hesitate wayyy too long in a moment of need.

One of the last experiences I treasure was a trained police dog demonstrating the task of finding a specific drug. I learned how the endearing shepherd was trained and how their senses work to distinguish a scent. Plus, we all got to give the canine officer some extra love.

Special speakers taught us a wealth of information about how the legal system works within each of their roles. They were extremely well prepared and professional in their presentations with simulations, examples, videos and pictures of situations I’d never considered. We came away with an understanding of the facilities and local agencies connected to the police department. Several departments have to work together to stay highly trained and efficient in order to pull off the extensive needs of protecting the public, responding to threats, and capturing those hurting others or themselves. At last, we visited the jail, where I assure you, you don’t want to stay. Many of our facilities, especially our jails, are stretched thin and staff work hard to keep their area safe.

By far the most obvious fact I observed was the sincere devotion and commitment our law enforcement carries daily for their work. Officer Ronnie Ward is extremely knowledgeable and devoted to the people his department serves. I am proud to be a member of the citizens policy academy with such a brave and professional group of public servants. So, if you are bored with the list of reruns and lame shows on tv, I encourage you to reach out to your local police department to participate in learning opportunities near you. I promise the memories you build won’t escape any time soon.


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