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Welch: Citizens Police Academy week 6 - Full auto

Week 6 of the Covington Police Depart­ment’s citizens academy started out as a rainy, dreary Saturday morning at the department’s gun range on Williams Road. It ended with a bang — or, rather, several bangs.

After a morning gun safety class from CPD’s range master Officer An­thony Walden, the group was ready for some range time. Several in the group had never fired a weapon before.

Lt. Wendell Wagstaff, Lt. Mike Tinsley, Lt. Mark Jones, Officer Allan Seeb­aran and Officer Walden stood by on the firing line pa­tiently offering instruction and encouragement as we took our turns firing some of the weapons CPD uses, includ­ing the depart­ment’s standard sidearm, the Glock 17, as well as the M-16 rifle, a shotgun, a .38-caliber revolver and a smaller Glock whose num­ber escapes me right now.

The highlight of the day for me, and for most of the group, I think, was the op­portunity to go full auto for a three-round burst from the M-16. Along with hav­ing a Taser turned on me, the full auto experience will stand as a highlight of the last six weeks.

And a fast six weeks it has been. Over the course of the academy we’ve had the chance to learn about how CPD goes about investigat­ing crimes and keeping the city’s residents safe. We had the chance to learn about evidence and why the evi­dence chain is important in criminal prosecutions.

We got to experience the Firearms Training Systems, or FATS, simulator officers train on to prepare them for shoot/don’t shoot sce­narios. As fast as situations devolved in a controlled, video game environment, I can’t imagine how fast they happen in real life-and-death situations.

And we had a chance to ride along with some of Covington’s finest. The ridealong was always the topic of conversation by group members at our next session.

Mostly, we had the op­portunity to get to know some of the cops who work daily to protect the city of Covington. The CPA’s mot­to is “Educating the public and building lasting rela­tionships.” Session 8 of the CPD citizens’ academy did just that. We had the op­portunity to meet, talk with and learn about and from some of the finest officers wearing a badge today.

I’m not blowing smoke or trying to get out of a tick­et. The City of Covington truly has an outstanding, professional police depart­ment. And I’ve seen a few.

Its officers seem to gen­uinely care about their jobs and about the people they serve and protect. It was a pleasure to spend some time with them.

When I wrote about the Porterdale citizens’ acade­my a year ago, I started my first story something like this: With much apprecia­tion and gratitude for the service and sacrifice made by our military, the peo­ple who protect our way of life pin on badges, strap on Glocks and climb into cars with blue lights on top for a living are heroes. If you take away our system of jurisprudence and the peo­ple we trust to enforce it, we will have anarchy. Cops are the reason we can sleep soundly at night.

Novelist and screen­writer Raymond Chan­dler put it best many years ago when he wrote, “down these mean streets a man must go who is not him­self mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man.”

Hopefully, I’ve been able to share a little about what I’ve learned over the last six weeks and hopefully we’ve had a chance to gain a little more understanding about the people who protect us.