Back in September I applied to be a member of the 2011 Fall Citizen’s Academy with the Sun Prairie Police Department. After a background check, I was approved, and class officially began on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Over the past eight weeks I have learned about various aspects of police life, including building searches, drugs and gangs. The curriculum included hands-on experience as well, such as when it was time to head to the Deerfield Indoor Shooting Range for some target practice, to the Columbus Speedway for Emergency Vehicle Operator Course [EVOC] driving or to the downtown police station for my
ride-along with Sun Prairie Police Officer Mike Hartman.
The experience has definitely been an eye-opener for me. During a dispatch ride-along, one of the Sun Prairie dispatchers, Tina Gebhard, made the comment that traffic stops and domestic abuse calls are the two most dangerous times for an officer.
“You never know who is in the car or if they have weapons,” Gebhard told me.
Although I never really stopped to think about it before, it makes sense.
An officer pulls over a vehicle and not knowing who or what is in the vehicle, makes an approach. While most traffic stops are routine, with law-abiding and rational citizens such as myself, the potential for danger is there, which is why Sun Prairie dispatchers keep in contact with officers during calls.
“My most important duty here is ensuring that everyone goes home safe at night,” Gebhard added.
Even though I have enjoyed everything, my favorite parts were when I was able to actually try the things out for myself, such as when I got to do vehicle maneuvers and obstacle courses in EVOC driving, or when my class headed to the range for target practice. Defense and Arrest Techniques [DAAT] training was also a blast - it’s not often you get to drop a police officer and former Marine.
I’m not going to rehash every last bit of it, because 1) it would be a lot of typing and 2) I’ve already done that during my weekly articles for the Sun Prairie Star.
If you want a more in-depth review of my experiences as Citizen Wittrock, click on the following links:
Firearms and EVOC driving: http://bit.ly/tRuTC2
Gangs, Drugs and How to Stay Safe: http://bit.ly/s6Mp5A
Defense and Arrest Techniques [DAAT] and Sun Prairie dispatch: http://bit.ly/rJ6uOk
OWI, Detective Bureau and Internet Crimes: http://bit.ly/u3jVO1
Sun Prairie EMS/FIre: http://bit.ly/sDlxqJ
My graduation ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 10. It’s sure to be a blast, and we will find out who won the Golden Cone Award - given to the person who hit the most cones during EVOC driving Oct. 1.