As we near the end of our Solon police education, the Citizens Police Academy Class No. 20 members had a chance to portray the role of an officer in a training scenario that resulted in most of us realizing we were not adequately prepared for any kind of police work.
As class members entered the training room one at a time, each was briefed on a domestic violence scenario. We were supposed to approach the residence where a domestic situation was unfolding, moving strategically to assess the situation. Without giving away the scenario, let’s just say most of us were caught with our hands in our pockets, or stuck in our police belts.
Officers wear heavy belts. They contain a gun, Taser and pepper spray, attached with various types of straps. I personally could not undo the strap quickly to remove my gun. So if this scenario had been real, I would have been in trouble.
The other task, to access the Taser from the other holster, proved even more difficult!
It made us all realize that walking up to an unknown situation, quickly accessing the appropriate weapon to pull; and assessing the suspect’s next move, in a matter of seconds, was HARD!
One confusing part of this scenario was that Solon Police Officer Keon Hemmerleim, who portrayed the domestic violence suspect, looked so nice and clean cut. This made viewing him as a suspect as we approached the residence even more difficult. But as our instructor, Sgt. Courtenay Perkins, told us, appearances can be deceiving. There is no typical look of a criminal.
The second scenario involved Solon Police Office Reggie Willis posing as a drunk man in a bar. Our task was to remove him from his bar stool and have him get a ride home. Well, let’s just say Officer Willis could have a second career in acting. He mumbled, he cried, he begged for one more drink, and asked for help retrieving his glasses. But in the end, it was the performance of class member Jeanette, who played the bar owner, who won the Oscar!
Jeanette told us all to “get him out of here, he’s drunk,” in a true May West-type accent, portraying her role with gusto during each scenario.
Most returned to the classroom after participating in the role plays with a laugh and a “Wow, I did terrible,” exclamation. We all listened to Sgt. Courtenay Perkins as he left us with one very sobering thought.
“The difference between that scenario and what happens for our officers is this: You knew at the end of the scenario that you would come back to the classroom and be fine. You knew you would make it out of that scenario, no matter how you did. For us, as police officers, wherever we enter a situation, the outcome is unknown. We don’t know what the suspect will do, we truly don’t know if we will even make it out of there.”
I’m still thinking about his statement.
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