Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gettysburg Week 8-9: Law Enforcement

Gettysburg National Military Park
Week 8-9: Law Enforcement

The past two weeks I have spent with law enforcement at Gettysburg, where I have learned a great deal more about the details that make a police department work. One day was spent exploring the support groups that assist law enforcement agencies in their everyday functions. Chief Ranger of Law Enforcement, Ryan Levins, took me out to Cumberland County Police Headquarters where I got to meet the police dispatchers and see the county prison. Dispatch is responsible for receiving both civilian and law enforcement calls, entering the data into their computer system, and then issuing directives to the police as needed. The dispatch workers provide an invaluable service, which includes four computer screens, several filing cabinets, three telephones, and piles of paperwork. Nevertheless, each dispatcher was cool under pressure and able to juggle all of these different resources to get police where they needed to go. 

Another day I spent with Law Enforcement Ranger John Sherman as we monitored traffic for speeding. Ranger Sherman explained to me how such “speed traps” were set up. First one must select a location where oncoming and outgoing traffic can be monitored and the squad-car can be concealed from drivers. After choosing a position along a busy stretch of road traveling through the park, the morning traffic brought several speeders our way. Ranger Sherman selected one speeder for a ticket after they were traveling over 18 mph over the posted 25 mph speed limit. I was fascinated with how much detail went into a basic traffic stop. Ranger Sherman explained the many factors to consider, such as selecting when and where to pull someone over, keeping an eye on the driver and making sure you can observe their hands, calling in the license plate and driver’s license to dispatch, filling out the ticket, and interacting with the driver in a professional manner throughout. This work continued long after the driver received their ticket and was on their way. At the end of our shift, Ranger Sherman then had to process the ticket on a computer and in a log book, then file the ticket receipts in two separate folders for future reference. By the end of it all, a single ticket took around forty-five minutes of our day to complete from the start of the stop to filing the ticket back at the office. Such work is a testament to the patience of law enforcement officers in dealing with both the public and the legal requirements of the job.

Perhaps the most important event of my time with law enforcement was when we received a call of an Interpretive Ranger having a seizure at the Visitor's Center. This ranger had gone into an epileptic seizure while conducting an interpretive program and the Law Enforcement Rangers were called to the scene. I remember rushing to the Visitor's Center with several other rangers and helping them administer treatment. Fortunately, the ranger having the seizure was alright, and after some quick treatment, he was back on his feet again. During this emergency call I really felt a connection with the other Law Enforcement Rangers and recognized within myself why I wanted to do this job: to help people. I enjoyed the thrill of the lights and sirens and the knowledge that what I was doing was making a genuine difference in the park. Afterwards, all of the Law Enforcement Rangers met and performed an After-Action Review to discuss the incident. The whole experience was a positive one, revealing the professionalism and dedication of the Law Enforcement Rangers to help a comrade in need. I was proud to stand in such good company and look forward to more successful days like this in my future career!

No comments:

Post a Comment