To the Editor:
The Oak Ridge Police Department has recently announced that it is in the process of recruiting for the 2014 class of the Citizens’ Police Academy. As a graduate of the 2013 class, please allow me to warn prospective applicants what they are in for if they are selected.
You are going to work your butt off. You will not be spending time listening to boring lectures. You will get your hands dirty in various activities from lab work that will make you think you could be a member of C.S.I. to standing on the firing range under a beautiful star-lit sky aiming a Glock service revolver at a target and squeezing the trigger.
You are going to be inundated with paperwork. The realm of research would call it primary source documents from judges, various section heads, representatives of community groups that interact with local law enforcement, and contacts from federal agencies. Trust me, no stone will go unturned.
For two to three hours of each session you will be in a no B.S. zone. Having spent over 30 years of my adult life working in local, regional, state, and federal agencies, I know it when I see it. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the frank discussions we had with persons of authority inside and outside the police department.
You will have the opportunity to take field trips and enjoy the rides. Unless you are arrested, where else will you be given the opportunity to see inside the Anderson County Jail complex? And nothing can match the visceral thrill and mild apprehension one gets while riding along with one of our highly trained officers as he or she runs a shift. Before you ride “shotgun,” you will experience at least one mock traffic stop turned drug interdiction that will leave you shaking in your shoes. And you will be given the opportunity to sign your life away when you complete the “next of kin” forms during day one of training. You will be one of the elite citizens to get an extensive tour of the headquarters complex, including dispatch.
You will be able to experience the feelings of thanksgiving and apprehension as you work shoulder to shoulder with the 70-plus employees of our police department, both two-legged and four-legged. At graduation, you will know what it is like to be protected and served by these individuals who daily willingly submit their lives to danger so that you won’t have to.
And, if you are as lucky as I was, your class will be comprised of the finest citizens, like yourself, who have the best interest of Oak Ridge at heart. And, hopefully, your class, like mine, will have some good cooks because home-made food makes break time more enjoyable. Lamentably, your class will not be able to share training facilities with the outstanding Oak Ridge Fire Department.
One regret—my class lacked minority representation. This was not by design. Members were chosen from those who applied. Now is the time for leaders of the African-American, Latino, Middle Eastern, and other ethnic minorities to be involved. Sharing of information is a two-way street. Our suggestions were sought after and acted upon.
Stop complaining and become part of the solution.
Gene R. Dunaway