Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Behind the Badge

We've all been there; parked on the side of the road, flashing lights in your rear view mirror, a police officer walking up to your window and explaining why they pulled you over. It's not the best situation to be in, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to be on the other side of the badge?

Earlier this summer, the Rosemount Police Department began advertising for a Citizens Police Academy to be held this fall. I've always had an interest in becoming a police officer so I figured this would be the perfect fit for me. I applied for the program and shortly thereafter received my acceptance letter. Little did I know, I was one of over 50 people applying to fill the 25 open spots. So, you might be asking yourself, why was I selected? While I don't know exactly what they were looking for, I have a feeling it was because of my good looks, flawless criminal record, and ninja-like reflexes. Well that.....and it could be because I applied the year before and they had to cancel it due to lack of interest.

In all seriousness, the Citizens Academy is a program designed to give residents an in-depth knowledge of their local police department. The academy I was in consisted of newspaper reporters, a state representative, law-enforcement students, local businessmen, retired citizens, and.....me. The academy started on October 5th and class was held every Monday night for 7 weeks. Every class was supposed to last 3 hours, however they usually ran 30 minutes to an hour late because of the interest everyone had in the topic at hand.

Over the course of 7 weeks, they taught us a variety of topics. It started with an overview of department operations, a tour of the police facility and a review of typical police calls. One week they did DWI demonstrations with people that had actually been drinking (under the watchful eye of the police). An investigator came in from the Dakota County Drug Task Force for an interesting presentation on narcotics and his undercover work. The SWAT team (which is locally known as MAAG) showed us all of their cool toys, including armored vehicles and a flash-bang demonstration. A detective went through investigations and crime scene processing, kind of like the television show "CSI Miami" except without the beautiful women and computers that can translate a drop of blood into an address. We went out to a training facility to perform mock building searches, traffic stops, and felony stops. We also got a tour of the Dakota County Communication Center which is where all the 911 calls for the county get answered. An officer spent one of the nights teaching us about the use of force continuum. He then taught us some self-defense techniques including the use of an ASP baton and how to handcuff suspects. The 7 weeks went by very quickly and I was disappointed that it came to such a quick ending with last nights graduation. I learned a lot over the last 7 weeks but if there is one thing that stuck out, it's that the police are truly there to "Protect and Serve".

If you ever have the chance to attend a Citizens Police Academy in your town, I'd highly encourage it. Even if you don't have any interest in becoming a police officer, it's a great way to gain a greater knowledge and respect for what the police really do - when they're not busy pulling you over for speeding.

Special thanks to Chief Kalstabben, Officer Richtsmeier, and all the other officers of the Rosemount Police Department who went above and beyond to make this a great opportunity for the latest "grads" of the Citizens Police Academy.

The Squads

The Dakota County Communication Center

SWAT Team Toys

Field Testing DWI Subjects

Handcuffing the Perp

Building Searches

"Calling out" a felony subject

He's going to wish he hadn't hid in the trunk


Watch the video above to see what the police have to deal with on a daily basis.

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