This is the first blog for the 2013 Troy Citizens Academy. The academy is one tool that the Troy Police Department uses to let the public find out firsthand what makes up the department, who makes up the department and its internal structure and how each part plays a role in providing the public with protection of life and property and maintaining the peace through police service. The Troy Police Department has sponsored many of these academies in the past. They want to be open as much as possible to the public. They have many avenues that provide information/tools like Twitter, Facebook, a mobile app for your phone, and crime alerts through emails. These are available at the City of Troy Police Department website.
At our first meeting, we first went over the structure of the police department. Some of the police are in uniform and others are in plain clothes depending on their daily roles. They have four 10-hour shifts. One requirement is working your holiday schedule versus sacrificing your home life. The uniformed officers are the most visible. They respond to a wide range of calls for service. Within this group, to name a few, are those patrolling our streets, the officers that deal with any fatal crash investigations, process crime scenes, and three K-9 officers. Troy Police work with other departments to strengthen their core. An example is working with Auburn Hills' officers with fatal crashes. There are many characteristics a police officer possesses. These include being emotionally and physically sound, flexible, compassionate, having courage and perseverance to name a few. Skills include possessing common sense, problem-solving skills, performing well under stress, and being empathetic and tolerant.
Second, we heard about Community Services Section (CSS) within the department. This is a familiar section to some Troy residents. The CSS provides resources for the community in the form of block parties, marches, parades, runs, walkathons, thanking those school children who were on patrol at the various school corners throughout the school year (Safety Orange Bowl), charity events, teaching children how and where to ride bicycles, and how to spot dangerous situations and people and how to respond to each. The list is even longer than this but the community is the one who benefits from these seemingly background opportunities.
The third topic covered was the Traffic Safety Unit that is comprised of five officers, down from 10, due to budget constraints, who investigate fatal crashes and review traffic patterns throughout the city. They make recommendations if a situation occurs that needs to be modified, such as changing the way the traffic lights are sequenced along one of our roads. If a fatality occurs, a street or road may be shut down until the investigation is complete. They look at all the vehicles involved, tires, tire marks, the whole area involved, all the people involved, the witnesses, any other clue and all their measurements.
The last topic addressed was the OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) Law as it pertains to the State of Michigan. One aspect that was brought out was that when you receive your license, you are letting the State know that if you are subject to a breathalyzer test, you would give it. The police pull you over because of your driving and ask you different things to say or perform, as well as give you a breathalyzer if the situation requires it. There are different tests based on what their senses are telling them. The tests are for operating the vehicle under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, prescription drugs, or a combination of them. There were many questions about individual scenarios and the bottom line is each situation is different and no one answer fits all. (Refer to the State of Michigan's Substance Abuse and Driving website for more information.)
There are about 30 people in the current academy and there is a waiting list for the one to be held this Fall. The Troy Police Department place notifications in newspapers about two months in advance to let citizens know when the next class is. If you are interested in participating in an academy after reading seven weeks of this blog, watch the local newspapers for the next class.