Thursday, June 5, 2008

Graduation – THEY DID IT!!

video

The cadets of the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy are no longer cadets – they are law enforcement officers.

Wednesday evening, 22 new officers were introduced to the public in a moving ceremony to honor the achievements of the class. Bryan Police Chief Tyrone Morrow was the keynote speaker to the over 100 parents, family members and other local law enforcement officers and officials in attendance.

Michael Jones was named the class valedictorian and Kellye Cozart earned salutatorian honors.

Congratulations are also in order for the 20 other new officers: Justin Barham, William Bouse, Clayton Brown, Gerald Burnett, Cody Chandler, Ryan Clements, David Dudenhoeffer, Heather Heatherly, John Ivey III, Chad Jones, Georgia Maher, Christoper Moynihan, Abundio Nunez, Danny Ohana, Ethan Patton, Keenin Ringo, Russell, Rodriguez, Rachel St. Pe’, Chris Sullivan and Brandon Young.

These officers endured some of the most rigorous training imaginable over the last 17 weeks and the excitement and relief on their faces was clearly noticeable. The cadets took the equivalent of 22 college semester hours over the 17-week period.

Most will begin work immediately, learning the processes and procedures of their agencies before they hit the streets.

The Texas Engineering Extension Service wishes all the new officers the best of luck. We feel safer knowing there are more quality individuals protecting the interests of our local community.

An enormous thank you from all of us!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Patrolling Riverside Campus

Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus – home to the Central Texas Police Academy – is laid out like a town. It has named streets, buildings and even a few houses. The cadets of the 142nd CTPA were the police officers for Riverside this week.

The cadets worked in pairs and patrolled the streets of Riverside and police personnel from around the area served as the citizens of Riverside Campus and role-played many situations.

Since the role players were mostly active police officers, they were able to shed a unique light on the situations to make them very realistic.

There were traffic violations, noise complaints, domestic disturbances, and many other situations to which the cadets responded. They wrote tickets, made arrests and had to write reports at the end of their shifts. They even had to report to dispatch, which was also manned by the cadets not on patrol.

The role-players also served as instructors and when each simulation was complete, they talked to the cadets about what they did right and what they did wrong.

Once again, a video to help illustrate.



video

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Active-Shooter Training

Some of the most intense training in the 17 weeks of the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy happened at an old elementary school in Bryan during week 16.

First, a little history lesson: In the 1960s and 1970s, events like the Watts Riots and Symbionese Liberation Army shootout led to the creation of SWAT teams – which most agencies now have in some form. More recent tragedies like the North Hollywood shootout in 1997, the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings have helped shift protocol again.

Because of these and other incidents, all officers are trained in active-shooter response. Law enforcement first responders are now trained to enter the situation instead of setting up a perimeter to contain the situation and call the SWAT team.

The training: During the training, cadets used weapons that fired “simunition” rounds, which leave a colored mark where they make contact. It’s very much like a paint gun.

The first time through the simulations, the recruits made mistakes – as you would expect for anyone doing anything for the first time.

It’s definitely better that the cadets go through this type of situation in a controlled environment so they get a feel for it before hitting the streets. They get to feel the adrenaline rush as the bullets scream and the loud shots echo through the halls of the abandoned elementary school.

You can get a taste of the adrenalin rush by watching the video below!


video

Friday, May 23, 2008

WEEK 15: Investigation

This week, the cadets learned basic criminal investigation procedures. The subjects run the gamut from case management to evidence collection.

Basically, they learned how to conduct an investigation, how to respond to a scene and what kind of information they need to collect after they respond.

“It’s important to document everything,” Mr. Santo said. “The manner evidence is collected and how it is documented can be just as important as the evidence itself.”

The students learned interview and interrogation techniques.

“Law enforcement officers will be interviewing people their whole career,” said Santo. “Everything they do is asking questions and they’ll have to learn to ask the right questions and be able to determine how much information they need to get.”

To practice this, students went around the building and interviewed different people in the office to gather information for a theft report.

They learned the difference between interviews and interrogations and what to do when an interview turns into an interrogation.

The instruction provides the basics: cues, keywords, phrases and behaviors.

“We give common examples and talk about those examples,” Santo said. “But like any other type of training, they will get better when they actually experience it and start getting a feel for it. This is basic training they are getting here and some guided practical experience. Most practical experience comes when you get on the job.”

Thursday the cadets practiced investigation, which included how to contain the crime scene, what they need to look for in the way of evidence and what to do with the collected evidence. Cadets also learned how to process and photograph the evidence.

Friday, the cadets learned to locate and lift finger prints and learned booking procedures.

Interesting tidbits: The 17-week 142nd Central Texas Police Academy is winding down. Next week the cadets will incorporate all the skills they have learned thus far and apply them in real-life situations with actors portraying perpetrators, traffic violators and much more. Check back next week for multiple blog posts!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

WEEK 14: Class time and a memorial service

Week 14’s curriculum covered multiple topics: juvenile issues, multiculturalism, human relations and civil law.

But the highlight of the week was the cadets' participation in the community’s annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service at the American Pavilion in Veteran’s Park in College Station.

The ceremony honored law enforcement officers who paid the ultimate price to their communities in the last year. In 2007, 181 law enforcement officers in the United States – 22 in Texas – lost their lives in the line of duty.

Check out the video below for a recap of the ceremony …

video

Friday, May 9, 2008

WEEK 13: Field Sobriety Testing Training

This week, the students went through standardized field sobriety testing training. They learn to administer a series of exams so they can build a probable cause case to arrest someone who’s been driving while intoxicated.
video
1.) The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): Horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eyeball which occurs naturally as the eyes gaze to the side. Under normal circumstances, nystagmus occurs when the eyes are rotated at high peripheral angles. However, when a person is impaired by alcohol, the jerking can occur at lesser angles.

2.) The Walk-and-Turn: The walk-and-turn is a divided-attention test in which the subject is directed to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps the subject must turn on one foot and return in the same manner the opposite direction. There are eight indicators of impairment associated with this test.

3.) The One-Leg Stand: The one-leg stand test is also a divided attention test where the subject is instructed to stand with one leg approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands (one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, etc.) until told to put the foot down. There are four indicators of impairment for this test.

Police officers look for specific clues and indicators that the subject may be intoxicated. If somebody makes multiple mistakes during one test, the officer likely has probable cause. They also look at how well a person follows directions. All the indicators help the officer build a case for probable cause.

“It is important to build a good case, because there have been instances where cases have been reduced or dismissed,” Mr. Santo said. “It is very important to document their reason for the initial traffic stop and the reason why they administered the tests. By itself, one of the pieces of evidence may not indicate the person is intoxicated, but when all the indicators are put together, there is usually a strong case.”

Interesting tidbits …

Monday and Tuesday the cadets learned basic Spanish. The idea is to give officers key words and phrases that can help them identify a threat. They also learn commands for arrest and direction. In addition, they learn how to ask someone if they need help and what kind of help they need.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Handgun qualifying

Each cadet must “qualify” twice through a series of shooting tests. Each test requires the cadet shoot 60 rounds in timed scenarios from distances varying from three to 25 yards.

A round in the circle of the target is awarded five points. A round in the white portion of the target is awarded four points and a round in the gray portion is awarded three points.

See the video below!

video

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

WEEK 12: Firearms training

“In law enforcement we teach the use of firearms as a tool to save the officer’s life – or somebody else’s life,” said Cullen Grisson, TEEX’s resident gun ballistics expert. “Precision marksmanship at long distances is not what police officers are normally asked to do. Usually the gun fights are at very close ranges, traffic stops, pedestrian stops or inside a home – those are the real threats to their safety. Part of it is marksmanship, but a lot of it is the physical and psychological elements involved.”

The firearms training actually started last Friday, after a week of learning about field note taking and report writing. Friday the cadets learned about gun safety, the different types of weapons and why certain weapons are better suited for law enforcement. Basically, it’s a new gun owner’s program.

According to Grissom, some of the cadets will have a gun in their home for the first time.

“Peace officers are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “So they will be living with a weapon and we try to prepare them to take the gun into their home and what that means in terms of safety.”

Some of the cadets have had experiences with weapons.

“I actually shot for the
Texas A&M Pistol Team in college,” said College Station PD recruit Kellye Cozart. “It is totally and completely different form of shooting and it has absolutely no application for the shooting we are doing here. The stress level is also a lot higher here.”

Bryan PD cadet Georgia Maher learned to shoot once she knew she wanted to become a police officer.

“I’ve been shooting since August of 2007 and since then I shoot quite often at firing ranges,” she said. “I knew this was the line of work I wanted to get into and until August I’ve never had any formal instruction in shooting.” (See Goergia’s patterns on the target to the left.)

Other cadets have very little experience with firearms.

“Sometimes this is the first time some of these folks have ever held or fired a weapon,” Grissom said.

“I haven’t fired a weapon since I was about seven-years-old,” Chad Jones with the College Station PD said. “My dad had a .22 rifle and he let me shoot it one time. This is first time I’ve shot since then. I was nervous and I’ve definitely got some practicing to do.”

They’ll get plenty of practice this week …

“Each student will shoot between 700 and 1,100 rounds with their handgun and a shotgun,” Grissom said. “We take them from basic marksmanship skills all the way up through shooting and moving and using cover, which are the more practical fighting skills that they will hopefully never have to use.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

What’s someone from the fire department doing in the police academy?

When you scan the classroom or see all 23 cadets together, one immediately catches your attention. William Bouse, who’s a 20-year EMS veteran with the Bryan Fire Department.

Bouse, at a spry 47 years, is 27 years older than the youngest cadet in the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy.

“It’s an interesting aspect when some of the instructors are younger than you,” Bouse chuckled.

While working for an electrical firm and serving as a volunteer firefighter, Bouse took a basic and then an intermediate EMT class through the
Kinesiology Department at Texas A&M. About the time the latter of the two classes was wrapping up, he took a test with the Bryan Fire Department and was hired as an Emergency Medical Technician.

You might be wondering why a 20-year veteran of the Bryan FIRE Department is going through the police academy. Bouse was recently promoted to arson investigator and in Texas, all arson investigators must be licensed peace officers.

Does he ever get ribbed by his classmates for being the elder statesman of the group?

“We give him a hard time every now and then, but not too often” said 24-year-old recruit
Cody Chandler. “Everybody here calls each other by their last name, but instead of calling him just ‘Bouse,’ we call him ‘Mr. Bouse.’ You could call it a healthy respect for his age and he fits in great with the rest of the class.”

“I hope I bring across a feeling that they can come and talk to me about issues,” Bouse said. “Issues that they feel like somebody with more years and experience might be of help.”

Evidently, that is the case … “He is a wealth of knowledge,” Chandler added. “Especially when we’re learning stuff like we’re learning right now.

Thursday and Friday the cadets learned basic
first aid and CPR. And that’s right up Mr. Bouse’s alley.

“It’s absolutely important that all first responders have a basic level of first aid and CPR training,” Bouse said. “It’s also important that they can recognize what is life-threatning and what is not, be able to stabilize the scene and be able to pass on some information to the EMS when they arrive.”

Interesting tidbits:

Monday and Tuesday the cadets studied accident investigation. Wednesday they had a guest speaker from the
Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission and learned basic information about hazardous materials situations.

Bouse is not the only member of a fire department in the police academy. Gerald Burnett with the Bryan Fire Department is also earning his peace officer certification for the exact same reason as Bouse. (Both pictured to the left.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

SPRAY!!

Friday, the cadets got certified to used OC spray! We'll let the video and pictures tell the story ...

video
Are you sure you're ready to be sprayed?









Washing off afterwords ...











It gets everywhere!










It affected some worse than others.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Patrol Procedures … and the half-way mark!

video

The cadets of the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy are officially on the downhill side of the mountain. As the ninth week of the 17-week academy draws to an end, the cadets continue to add skills to their repertoire.

Monday and Tuesday was more class time where the students learned procedures they will use during traffic stops and while searching buildings.

Wednesday morning, the cadets practiced how they would approach a stop if there was not a known risk – your basic traffic stop done by a single officer.

That afternoon, they practiced procedures relative to a high-risk situation.

“A high-risk situation is when the officer knows there is a problem,” TEEX instructor Larry Frye said. “It could be a stop of a car that was stolen or been involved in a bank robbery. In these types of cases, the officer will call for back-up to assist.”

For their own safety, the future officers are learning to treat every stop with caution.

“Safety is always the top priority,” said Ryan Clements, a recruit with the College Station PD. “Something could happen at every stop you make and you always have to be ready, even though the last 100 stops you have made have been without incident. Complacency can get you killed.”

Thursday the procedures shifted to searching houses. TEEX has three residential prop house used exactly for this type of training. The houses are old living quarters from the Bryan Air Force Base that once was located at Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus.

“Searching buildings is more difficult,” said self-funded recruit Ethan Patton. “There are more places for people to be and once you get someone secured in the building, you not only have to worry about searching them, but also if there is someone else in the building. You can see what is going on in the vehicle more than in a building.”

After every group of students perform a traffic stop or clear a house, the instructors gather all the students together and there is a frank discussion about what went right and what went wrong.

The instruction is non-stop during the hands-on portions of the training and the theme is always the same. According to Frye, “We want them to make their mistakes here and not make them again.”




Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pushing it to the limit … the car that is!

When the call comes from dispatch and an officer needs to get to the scene quickly, hopefully this will not happen …

And that is exactly why the members of the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy were put through rigorous driving training (see video below) during the eighth week of the 17-week class.

video

Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus is located on the site of what used to be the Bryan Air Force Base. Tons of concrete from the old runways provided the ideal spot to learn to drive fast, brake hard – and most importantly – do it all safely.

Face it, at some point in a law enforcement officer’s career – probably more often than you’d think – he or she will have to respond to an emergency call or be in a pursuit situation.

The TEEX emergency vehicle driving track helps students to safely respond to incidents by giving them hands-on practice that builds confidence in their equipment and individual performance in emergency driving situations.

Specifically, there are six driving maneuvers – or driving courses – the students must master before the week is over.

All the courses help develop hand-eye coordination and help the student develop a “feel” for the vehicle’s dynamics and control. Additionally, each course helps develop a unique skill set.

It’s not easy! If there were no time constraints placed on finishing the courses, the “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” could get through all the courses with no problems. But there are time constraints, and in some cases speed minimums as well.

For instance, let’s take a look at the Serpentine course. There are five cones placed in a straight line. Each cone is 60 feet apart. The driver has to enter the obstacle at 35 mph and exit through a 12-foot gate at the end of the obstacle going at least 35 mph. (In the video above, from 0:23 to 0:45 is footage of the Serpentine course)

That’s not hard enough for you? The Precision Maneuvering course is a combination of three separate courses that test all of a cadet’s driving skills in a confined area: sharp turning, backing, acceleration, controlled braking … you get the idea. The students have three minutes to finish the series of courses and can only hit six cones. (In the video above, from 0:45 to the end is footage of the Precision Maneuvering course)

Do not try any of this at home.

If you do, in about nine weeks one of these cadets may be issuing you a citation!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back in the Classroom … Traffic Law

Much of a police officer’s time is spent patrolling … in a car … on the street or highway. Chances are they are going to come across other vehicles and need to know the laws that govern traffic and motorists. That’s where the Texas Transportation Code comes in.

And that’s exactly what the cadets learned this week from Senior Trooper Eddie Carmon from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“It’s impossible to cover all of traffic law in one week, so we hit the areas that they probably encounter in their day-to-day activities as officers,” Carmon said. “You can spend six weeks trying to cover traffic law and not get it all in. I’ve tried to – with the experience I have with the highway patrol – give them the info they’ll need when they get to their assigned station or agency.”

“No one wants to be stopped and be given a ticket for a violation they didn’t commit,” Carmon added. “With this class, I want the officers to make sure that any time they stop someone, they make sure they know that the person has violated a law and charge them with the proper violation.”

I know what you’re thinking … if Trooper Carmon can’t teach the class all the traffic law in one week, how should an officer expect the general public to know all the traffic laws? You need to remember the Texas Transportation Code covers a wide variety of topics. Look at it! There’s a link in the first paragraph in case you missed it.

“If you are in the motoring public, take it upon yourself to learn the traffic laws that apply to you and where you are driving your vehicle,” Carmon emphatically said. “Just because you don’t know the law, if you have committed an offense, you are accountable for it. When you sign the dotted line to get your driver’s license, you imply that you know the traffic laws and you’re held accountable for that. It wouldn’t hurt a person to every now and then pick up a driver’s handbook and refresh themselves.”

What is the most common violation an officer encounters that deals with the traffic laws?

“The speed limit,” Carmon said quickly and matter-of-factly. “The speed limit totally depends on what road you’re on: city street, farm-to-market road, state highway, interstate highway. People are surprised to know that you can drive 80 mph in some locations of Texas. Learn the speed limits of the areas you drive most often and pay attention to the posted signs. More people were stopped for speeding violations than any other violations.”

Friday, March 21, 2008

Finally out of the classroom … defensive tactics

video

The above video makes you think twice about not obeying a police officer, huh?

Unfortunately, police officers often find themselves in a situation where talking and reasoning will not resolve a problem. And sometimes it gets physical.

The sixth week of the Central Texas Police Academy helps the cadets deal with these situations by teaching them defensive tactics.

“It’s awesome to be out of the classroom and not sit for eight hours straight,” said recruit Danny Ohana with the
Texas A&M Police Department.

After five weeks of continuous and mind-numbing class work (see previous blog posts), the students finally get to relieve some of their pent-up energy.

“The first day of defensive tactics is really all about mindset,” instructor Larry Frye said. “They have to understand that they’re going to get into fights in law enforcement. They’re going to face resistance and they’re going to have to come out on top. My responsibility is to make sure these people all get home at the end of their shift.”

Throughout the week the cadets continuously built upon their defensive tactics repertoire. The training was based off of Pressure Point Control Tactics, or PPCT. PPCT started out as only pressure point tactics, but evolved into a whole range of defensive tactics to include:

- handcuffing
- basic movements
- defensive counterstrikes
- pressure point control
- joint locks and take downs
- baton applications
- shoulder pin - a type of vascular restraint
- weapons retention and disarmament

After they learn the maneuvers, the cadets get a chance to face real-life situations against seasoned police officers who posed as the bad guys. All were wearing protective gear, but more than one bloody nose surfaced from the action.

“It’s very good for a cadet officer to get hit so when they get out on the street they don’t freeze up or it’s not a surprise,” said officer Paul Brown of the
College Station Police Department.

Each encounter is constantly monitored and after each one, the instructors review the scenario with the cadets, discussing what went right and what went wrong with each scenario.

“We would rather the students make their mistakes here than when they get out into the real world,” said Mr. Santo.

Many times, emotion controlled the cadets’ actions. The drills are designed to help them get a feel of how their body and mind will respond to the situation.

“They have to learn to control their anger because they are accountable for everything they do, especially in this day and age where everyone has a camera and video capabilities on their cell phone,” Brown said. “You have to be conscious of what you are doing and how you are doing it. It doesn’t mean somebody is not going to get hurt, but your goal is to get them under arrest without causing injury.”

“Police officers are responsible for everything they do,” Brown quickly added. “If you go to kick someone to take them down and you miss and hit someone in the crowd, you are responsible for that. There is a very high level of accountability on the police officer’s part - way more accountability than a regular citizen.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WEEK 5: A short but important week … getting stronger in more ways than one

Cody Chandler, a self-funded academy member who drives from Huntsville every day, says he can feel – and see – the effects of the physical training the cadets are enduring at the end of just about every day.

He has taken a whopping five minutes off his 1.5 mile run time and added 17 push-up repetitions in the allotted one minute in just four weeks.

“I’m not as fat,” he joked. “But seriously, I feel a lot better physically. I was just showing off to my wife on the webcam the other day.”

Webcam?

“My wife’s been in
Iraq for almost a year,” he said.

Chandler and his wife, who he met when both were in the Army and stationed in Georgia, were married three years ago and now have a 15-month-old son. He last saw his wife for a week in September. Chandler himself spent time in Iraq and was part of the invasion of Baghdad.

“It’s been difficult,” Chandler solemnly said. “I’m not good with this emotional stuff, but I’m thankful my family has been there to help me. The police academy has been something to keep me busy.”


And the recruit class has been busy. In a week shortened to three days by Spring Break, Dr. Anne Satterfield has been teaching the cadets the basics of mental health issues and how to identify these issues.

They can range from temporary impairment due to drugs and alcohol to long-term mental health issues.

“Officers wear a lot of hats,” said Satterfield, the Director of Employee Assistance Program at Texas A&M and practicing psychologist. “Sometimes they wear the hat of a social worker and care for people with mental issues.”

Satterfield claims that at any given time, 25% of the population has some sort of mental health issue and needs help. She adds that not all are able to get help, especially since the amount of help available is diminishing.

“There’s increased scrutiny on law enforcement officers,” Satterfield added. “They must be able to identify mental health issues and find the place for the person to get assistance. It may not always be jail.”

Interesting tidbits:

The cadets will not have class Thursday and Friday as the entire Texas A&M System is off for Spring Break … Next week, the cadets will begin hands-on training, beginning with a week of learning defensive tactics.

The cadets received their PT t-shirts this morning. The design was done by the students and they will wear the shirts everyday for physical training. The shirt slogan reads, “non nobis, sed aliis,” which means, “not for ourselves, but for others.”