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Welch: CPD week 7: Time to use what weve learned

It’s hard to believe that we’re at week seven of the Porterdale Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy. Just two more classes and we graduate.

This class, we started using some of what Chief Jason Cripps and his team have been trying to teach since the start of February.

The class was split up into three groups, with two members playing the role of responding officers and one member acting as an investigator. I was paired with Tim Hawkins and Meltera Wimpye. Tim and I were the cops. Meltera was the investigator.

As Tim and I approached the scene of a reported disturbance, we heard gunshots. A female, later identified as the daughter of one of the victims came running out screaming that her dad had shot her mom. Because she had come running out of the “crime scene” immediately after the shots, until we knew who she was, she was ordered to lie on the ground.

As we entered the scene, we encountered an agitated, uncooperative male. Believing that he had just shot someone, he was loudly ordered to the ground by Officer Tackleberry. When he refused to cooperate, I got louder. Once he was on the ground, he was “handcuffed” for our safety and eventually placed in our “patrol car.”

Once the scene was secured, Investigator Wimpye began to process the “crime” scene. Officer Hawkins and I assisted. We observed two “victims.” One appeared to have been shot; one appeared to have been stabbed. We had a class a couple of weeks ago about processing crime scenes, but when you’re actually doing it, it is entirely different than sitting and taking notes.

There are things to label and document. We took photos. Like we learned from Corporal Cook in class, Tim made a video of the scene.  We saw things.  We talked about what we saw. We made notes for questions to ask the “medical examiner”. We needed forensics and ballistics on “weapons” we observed. Investigator Wimpye asked our “witness” and our “suspect” questions. It didn’t take either of them long to “lawyer up.” however.

We probably did a couple of things right, but more than likely we missed more than we got right. But hey, we’re not professionals. The exercise did, however, give us a new and different perspective for what cops and investigators go through when they encounter a crime scene in real life.

Being the first officer at a scene is not an easy job. In our scenario, in addition to securing the “scene,” we also had to control it. One is hard enough, trying to do both is harder. In addition to the adrenaline rush of controlling a situation, an officer has to be aware of everything going on around him or her. Don’t step on evidence. Don’t touch anything you don’t need to.  There is a lot going on.

Investigators are the ones who collect the evidence and prove who committed the crime. They have to be meticulous in their examination of evidence and the scene. They are the people who dot the “I’s” and cross the “t’s” to put the bad guys in jail and keep them there.

Next week, we get to find out how we did. We’re going to prosecute the offenders in “court”with a real judge. If controlling and securing the scene was tough, testifying should be a snap. Or not.

 Stay tuned to see how we did.