An explanation to what the Training Unit is and what it does started out the night. Training is a significant part of each officer’s duty. The officers must keep up their skills, practice and learn new skills, be able to use them in any situation whether it is just answering a question or a full-blown police situation. The officers have annual training and are scheduled so that the department doesn’t have to use overtime. Part of their training is reviewing skills in firearms (pistol, shotgun, and rifle); use of force (lethal and non-lethal); and defense tactics. Some of the officers ask for further specialized training to enhance their skill package. The department may schedule training that trains the trainer. This is a cost savings for Troy because the Training Unit may schedule a class with other police departments. Another way the department helps is to rent out their firing range to other departments. Training skills are also required and scheduled by the state to maintain the professional standards of each police officer.
Our next topic was on the city’s Emergency Response. If an unforeseen event, such as weather related, chemical related, a plane crash, explosion, or fire, the city must have an emergency plan in place. The police and fire departments, as well as all government offices, are part of an emergency response package. The city has shelters listed by how big they are, where they are located, number of phone lines, power situations, how many people they could help, and how many parking places they have available. If an unforeseen event does occur in the east side of the city, shelters could be set up in other safe parts of the city away from the event. Communications will be discussed later. The city practices for different scenarios and times them to ensure they can be set up with little disturbance and be ready to go in a moment’s notice. The City Manager is the person overseeing the communications of what needs to be done and the how’s and why’s. The city has planned for three people to be able to do each job so that they can go home, rest up, and be in top shape and mind to carry on in the emergency. The emergency response plan includes equipment, including backhoes, trucks, or lifts that may be used and one phone call is all it takes to inquire of the appropriate party to bring the equipment to a scene. Oakland County Health Department will be set up and is needed to fulfill medical concerns. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other volunteer disaster organizations would be called up as needed.
In any event, it is important to know what could happen to you. Could you be affected by a tornado, fire, hazmat situation, power outage, snow storm, etc.? You have to create a formal plan to deal with the situations. Where would you go if you were evacuated? You should pick three spots that your family can meet if you were separated when the event occurred. One spot should be locally; one out of the area, such as someplace up north; and a third out of the state. Make a checklist of emergency things you need to take to survive at least 72 hours. Have them put in a place where they are located together for easier access. Have a first aid kit and other supplies for you and your family including diapers, medications, and special foods, and if you have pets, their supplies. Practice with your family what you’re going to do, where you are going to meet, and who is responsible for what. Remember, cell phone towers have a battery backup, but they also need power to continue operating. Your cell phone, etc. may become useless. The more you plan for it now, the less stress you will have later.
The next presentation was on grants. Troy has received more than $1.2 million dollars in grants since 1999. The grants were used to purchase specialized equipment for specialized events that may occur in the city. The hazmat trucks look like modified fire trucks (one is red and black and the other is orange). As stated earlier in another blog, they are now part of the Oakland County Hazmat Team for hazmat and other event concerns. If mutual aid is requested, the trucks roll to those events. The grants also purchased many technical devices including a spectrograph, which analyzes powders and liquids.
Grants today are not as plentiful as they were after 9-11. After 9-11, training was the most important part of funding. Recently, its focus is in learning about explosives. The communications within the city has improved. If an event occurs in Pontiac that would affect the communications center, Troy’s EOC (Emergency Operations Center) would be set up in about 15 minutes. If the county and city communications center is affected, a communications center could be set up at the Fire Training Center. The Fire Training Center is currently used by both the police and fire departments as a training facility. A grant was used to purchase the communications trailer that was described in week four. Today, the department is still trying to get grants. The grants that are not rewarded seem to be because Troy’s safest city designation. Troy is seen as doing a good job, so the feeling is why would you need these funds. The funds are then dispersed to cities that are low on the list.
The last presentation was by Chief Mayer who went over the budget. The budget for the past three years, and probably this year, has been under budget and the money returned to the general fund. There were many slides of where and how the monies are budgeted. Most of the money is for labor because the department is service oriented. This past (St. Patrick’s Day) weekend, there were 36 arrests for drunken driving. A typical weekend is around 20 arrests. If you have to pay a ticket, depending on the type, part of the money is returned to the police department, part to the library, and the rest remains with the court system for their discretion. When receiving a ticket three things need to happen: 1) be an emotional event for the receiver; 2) educate the person not to do it again because last time they received a ticket, 3) and be punitive.
Chief Mayer then answered a few more questions relating back through the past seven weeks.
Personally, I would like to thank Chief Mayer and the whole Troy Police Department for volunteering their time and talents to make the Citizens Police Academy a success. There were some accolades shared in class as to what was learned and what they expected – the feeling was a lot more was learned than expected. The academy is a tool the police department uses to inform the citizens of Troy and give a peek into what their careers are like and how they serve the citizens of Troy and surrounding areas. It was a little more than a sample into each area.
If you are interested in seeing a glimpse of the Troy Police Department, they have an Open House scheduled for May 18th. The Troy Fire Department has their Open House scheduled for (the first Sunday in) October 6th , this year.
Lastly, I would like to thank Sergeant Andy Breidenich for asking me to relay my experiences in a blog form. There was so much more I could have added and, if I got carried away, the blog would have been the size of a Sunday edition paper. Also, thanks to Monica Drake for her assistance in setting up and The Oakland Press for giving me space for the blog.