Yes, I know this sounds like the title from a detective story written in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, but it’s not. No, it’s what happened to me yesterday evening.
Some of you may know that my wife and myself signed up for Davie Police’s Civilian Police Academy, but, what you may not know, is just how much we, and I suspect everyone else, are enjoying it. Last night was as good as anything we’ve enjoyed previously but because we were more involved it was even better.Last night we met Sergeant Choquette’s Training Team and we got to play with them, or maybe it was them playing with us. Clearly a major concern for any US police department is the proper use of firearms: a wrong decision and someone who shouldn’t be dead could be. Last night we got some insight into some of the training which Sergeant Choquette puts his officers through.
The hood is exactly that. As the trainee we stood in the centre of the floor and a large hood was lowered over our heads. Our instructions were to react to what we saw when the hood was removed. We were told we could stand still, we could move, we could do whatever we wanted, we could even shoot the hand gun if we wanted. So there I was, standing still in the darkness and wondering just what would confront me when the hood went up. The “what” turned out to be a tall guy who approached me very rapidly gesticulating wildly and talking loudly. You can imagine I felt threatened as that’s the nature of the training so, up came my gun and I pulled the trigger but nothing happened. The guy who was approaching me had, by now, got very close and started bending down and reaching close to my gun as he told me he was looking for his dog and it was about so high. How could he carry on telling me this when I’d shot him? I didn’t know but as nobody else knew I’d pulled the trigger and the guy was no threat I kept quiet about that one! Down came the hood again and when it went up this time there was the same guy facing me with the gun raised to shoulder height and pointing straight at me. You can imagine my gun came up faster than John Wayne’s ever did and I pulled the trigger several times but nothing happened. Eventually someone said I should have fired and I explained I had. It turned out I’d left the safety catch on. So, current score is one dead member of the public and one dead me. Not doing too well so far was I? Now for scenario 3. The hood goes up and there’s the same guy dragging someone who is clearly a hostage across the front of me. Naturally my gun comes up and I fire. Equally naturally I hit the hostage as I’m still shooting John Wayne style and not really aiming! The scenario continues and eventually I manage to make a head shot at the kidnapper. Final score is four dead and only one of them was a bad guy!
For the dark house exercise I worked as one of a pair and our assignment was simple. There’s been an alarm at a house which is in darkness and our task was to go in, armed with handguns and flashlights and clear the house of any intruders. Somehow it just didn’t feel as it looks on t.v. We heard the sound of guns being fired but hadn’t a clue where the sound came from. We managed to catch one of the intruders before the exercise was over but I think, in a real situation both my partner and myself would have been killed long before that moment. The officers we spoke to said that this is the kind of scenario which happens to them on a fairly regular basis although they would normally send for a SWAT team to clear the house.
Once again the officers of Town of Davie Police impressed with their enthusiasm for their job, their knowledge and skills, their desire to do a good job, their desire to get it right, and their desire that the public understands what it is they are doing.
This course is becoming something like a good book. You know when you are enjoying reading it so much that you just want it to go on and on and yet the nearer you come to the end you regret that it is going to finish? Well, that’s how I’m beginning to feel about this course. Last night was session five out of ten so I’m already beginning to think of life without something to do on a Tuesday evening. Whoever thought I might be sad NOT to be going to a police station?