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Welch: CPA week 4: Domestic violence and traffic enforcement
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Week four of the Porterdale Police Department’s (PPD) Citizens Police Academy (CPA) gave the class the opportunity to hear about one of the more disturbing and dangerous parts of police work. We also got to see how traffic radar works.

Lt. Henson took the class through a session about domestic violence. He told us that sometimes, the majority of a police officer’s shift can be spent settling disputes. A lot of times, the disputes involve family members. Those can be particularly bad. Many police officers consider domestic disputes the most dangerous calls they respond to.

Lt Henson explained that family violence can involve a variety of acts and that police officers are often tasked with making sense out of chaos. They have to figure out if anyone needs to be arrested. At the same time they have to be sensitive to the needs of those involved, particularly children.

There are times when the victim will side with the aggressor once the officer determines that arrest has to be made. This can prove doubly dangerous for the officer, because he or she might now be forced to fight two people, including the person they were dispatched to help.

Domestic violence statistics are disturbing. Hearing about the things cops are faced with every time they knock on a door while they hear yelling or screaming or dishes breaking or children crying - or all four at once- gave us a lot to think about. We signed up for the CPA to learn about the policing. And we’re definitely learning about it- the good, the bad and the really ugly.

For the second half of the class, Sgt. Owens and Officer Munger told us about traffic control and its role in law enforcement. They also showed us how traffic radar works.

The class learned that the purpose of traffic enforcement is accident and injury reduction. Apprehension of criminals is a by-product of traffic enforcement. We also learned that in 2014, more people died in car crashes nationally than were murdered and that traffic deaths rose by 6 percent 2016 from 2015.

Officer Munger and Sgt. Owens explained that speed is a factor in traffic deaths and that speeding drivers many times have a blood alcohol level of at least .08. They explained to us the three roadside field sobriety tests that cops use to determine if a driver is intoxicated. We learned about the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. I had never heard of it. They also told us about the walk and turn and one leg stand which were pretty self-explanatory. Watching intoxicated drivers from police car dash cam video on YouTube gave us an idea of what cops go through on the side of the road as they attempt to determine if a driver is intoxicated.

PPD has made several drug arrests recently after traffic stops. The officers explained the need for probable cause to search a vehicle after a stop.

We learned about tag reader technology on police cars and how Lo-jack tracks vehicles.

And we got to see radar at work. We learned that traffic radar can clock your speed after you’ve passed an officer the same way it clocks you as you approach. That was the kind of information I need…

Another great and informative class of the CPA is in the books. Next week, we’re going to learn about criminal investigations and street gangs. Stay tuned.