Friday, October 29, 2010

A Connecticut Yankee in the Virginia Sheriff's Department

Monday night marked my third class with the York Poquoson Sheriff’s Department, and ultimately one of the most engaging to date.

I had no idea what to expect, beyond the obvious, as the class was titled “Uniform Patrol 1”. It was not just about uniform patrol, though. There was much, much more.

The first speaker was Captain J. Culler, a decades long veteran of the sheriff’s department. Captain Culler has a sort of police presence about him, the type of man that causes others to sit up straight and respond with a ‘yes, sir!’. There is also a touch of cynicism to this man, an air of having seen perhaps a nasty side of our fellow humans and wearily come to terms with it all.

“People can be just plain rude,” he told us.

I really did know better, but I just couldn’t help myself. “But, you’re the guy with the gun, why would they be rude to you?”

Captain Culler was incredulous. “What, do you have unicorns painted on the walls of your room?”

No, but I did just get back from a vacation at Disney. Maybe that would explain my ‘everything is magical’ world view.

Seriously, I can’t imagine being rude to a police officer (or deputy, as the case may be). These are the people that are just doing their jobs, which by the way includes saving your ass if it comes down to it.

After Captain Culler finished, our next section involved talking with the Emergency Response Team (ERT). These are the people that get the fun toys for their job, like entry tools, body armor and some very fine weaponry. Deputy West told us a little about surveillance, rescues and recoveries, as well as what one might expect with a job like this. In addition, a display of weapons and gadgetry was set up at the front of the room so we could see for ourselves what was needed for those nasty situations such as abductions, hostage takings, suicidal subjects or barricaded gunmen.

Again, in an emergency situation, ERT and patrol definitely have our backs.

Our field trip that night consisted of going outside and learning how a flash bang is used. All I can say is that it is very, very loud and very, very bright. And maybe just a little bit scary.

On Wednesday of this coming week I will get to go on what is known as a ‘ride along’, which will be an evening of me riding in a patrol car with an assigned officer. According to Captain Culler, if a high speed pursuit should occur, I cannot be in the police car. I’m supposed to exit the vehicle and wait.

If you see me on the side of the road this week, honk and wave. And maybe you could even come back with a cup of coffee or something.