Friday, July 6, 2012

CAHA Week 6- LE Education

I'm sure we've all heard someone say, ''knowledge is the key to success." We're told always continue to expand your mind. As young adults, we're urged to stay in school and further our education for as long as we possibly can, especially with the tough job market out there. Sometimes people only recognize knowledge as the education you get in a school setting; however, knowledge is comprised of so much more. For example, hands-on training is the necessary education you need to extend your book-smarts to more than just an A on an exam.

As a child I can here my Japanese grandmother's voice tell me "people can take a lot away from you, but no matter how hard someone tries they cannot ever take away the education you possess." She explains the more I continue to educate myself, the stronger an individual I become. Your mind is something no one can take away from you. Still to this day, my 83 year old grandmother continues to repeat this message to me.

My grandmother's 'words of wisdom' come to mind today, as I am 455 miles away from home at Cape Hatteras National Seashore learning about officer safety from my supervisor, Jim Churchman. I'm continuing to learn in the end, your biggest weapon and your strongest form of protection is your brain. It is your knowledge and quick thinking that will save your life. Knowing things like how to better position yourself and your vehicle, and how to keep yourself at an advantage and your suspect at a disadvantage, will add to your level of protection. These little bits and pieces of information may seem relatively insignificant in the realm of things, but that it far from true. Every action you take will either increase or decrease your level of protection and even your survival rate. My supervisor essentially reiterates my grandmother's words when he explains that a suspect may be able to take away my weapon, but they cannot take away my training, my education, and my knowledge; they cannot take from me the intangible knowledge I harbor within my mind.

This week I spent time learning about how to right reports and probable cause statements. I reviewed some previous reports and wrote my own practice draft of PC statement from an 'open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle' incident that occurred, and compared it with my supervisors'. We talked about ensuring the key facts and elements of the crime are obviously stated in the report. Articulation is extremely important when writing a solid report. With my supervisor overseeing my steps, I wrote out some of his written warnings for him and even a few tickets.

We spent a lot of time doing training. We focused on DUI enforcement and traffic stops. We talked about what to look for in a person's driving to spot an impaired driver. There are signs like drifting over the lines, failing to obey traffic control devices, swerving, sharp movements, irregular speeding and slowing down (no constant speed), and sudden stopping. For traffic stops we emphasized positioning of vehicle and yourself. The vehicle can act as a form of protection. Additionally, keeping yourself in a safe position of advantage adds to your protection and puts your suspect at a disadvantage. We even did mock trial stops to help reiterate these elements of a strong traffic stop.

Mock Traffic Stop

Explaining the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test
Keeping people from killing themselves and other people is a huge concern. Drivers under the influence are hazardous to themselves and to the public. Keeping drunk drivers off the road is a huge concern. My supervisor emphasized that we can use other violations to stop suspicious vehicles. For example, we can stop vehicles for things like no seat belts, no visible ORV permit, and speeding. This allows the officer the chance to talk to the driver, scope out the vehicle, smell for any signs of alcohol and drugs, and ultimately try to prevent bigger things like DUIs.

Vehicle stop- Arrest

When you do stop a vehicle and smell or see signs of alcohol, you can perform field sobriety tests like the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk-and-Turn, and the One-Leg Stand. During the HGN test, the officer looks for three indicators of impairment: lack of smooth pursuit, distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation, and onset prior to forty five degrees. These tests are cues of intoxication.

Right after practicing all of this, I got to see it in action when our officer pulled over an individual for not wearing his seat belt when leaving the beach. The individual was in an jeep wrangler. The traffic stop for a minor seat belt led to a field sobriety test, drug paraphernalia and marijuana possession, and ultimately an arrest.
I've always been an individual with a love for learning. I find learning intriguing. I love it down here at Cape Hatteras. It is not the 'ooo's' and the 'ahh's' or the living large and busting bad guys that is making my summer fun, but rather it is simply the learning aspect. Learning how to think like an officer and observe like one, learning how to spot a suspect from a distance, learning what to look for, learning how to protect myself, and simply just learning more than the ordinary.


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