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Welch: CPA week 9: The last responder
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The CPA class celebrates its graduation. (Special to The Covington News )

It is hard to believe that week nine of the Porterdale Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy (CPA) is already over. It literally seems like yesterday we were picking out our t-shirts and meeting Chief Jason Cripps and his team. And like all the rest of our CPA classes, this was an educational evening.

The class was joined by Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis, who talked about another piece of the crime solving puzzle that the police need.

Davis explained to the class that coroners are elected and that 154 of Georgia’s 159 counties utilize them.  The other five- Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton utilize medical examiners.

The coroner has the responsibility to determine the cause, manner and circumstance of deaths from tragic events, sudden death or deaths not in the presence of a physician.  They arrive only after the first responders have determined there is nothing that can be done for someone. They could be referred to as the “last responders”.

We learned the five causes of death and how coroners examine a scene to try to determine what happened.  And just like with last week’s courtroom activity and the crime scene the week before, we learned that things are not always what they appear to be at first look. It’s the job of investigators and coroners to figure out what happened.

So this is my last report from the Porterdale CPA. It has been a fast nine weeks. Over that period we’ve had the opportunity to see how radar works, hear from law enforcement professionals about the calls they fear most, fire weapons used by the PPD and other law enforcement agencies and visit the Covington- Newton 911 Center to witness some of the unseen heroes of public safety at work. We have had the opportunity to learn about the importance of traffic enforcement in not only keeping the public safe, but in the overall law enforcement picture. We’ve seen a K9 officer at work, taking down a perpetrator and finding drugs. And we had the opportunity to secure and process a crime scene and then bring our evidence to court to get a conviction. For the record, that still hurts.

Mostly, we had the opportunity to meet and get to know Porterdale’s Finest. Chief Cripps told us the first night that the purpose of CPA is to build a bridge between the police and community. Listening to my classmates, that’s what it has done.  Many have a different view of the police than when we started. And like with most things in life, understanding each other is the key to everybody getting along. For Class 6 of the Porterdale CPA, we now understand a little more about cops.

Graduation was Friday night at the Grace Baptist Church in Porterdale. Cpl. Charles Cook presented us with our certificates and we enjoyed a time of fellowship over a pot-luck supper.  Personally, I’m going to miss the weekly CPA sessions. As a reporter for The News, the class has given me a chance to get to know some of the people we cover. As a citizen of Newton County, it’s given me the chance to get to know some of my neighbors and be involved in something good in the community. Neither is a bad thing.

And I’ve been told I can come back for September’s class. Stay tuned.