This week was different than previous weeks. We had hands-on demonstrations, as well as being introduced to a lot of equipment used in the performance of an officer’s duty. Some officers are well trained in certain specialty areas which are not used in a normal day. We were placed into six teams and rotated through different demonstrations throughout the night.
First, as a class, we were taken into the physical training room where there are mats on the floor and foam mannequins and other hands-on equipment. We were shown how tasers affect a suspect. Six police academy students volunteered to be victims and be tased. Each walked to the center of the mat and was supported by classmates as they were tased. The Taser has small barb like fishhooks that penetrate into the skin about 1/8th-inch. The electric shock lasts for 5 seconds and the student is then lowered to the ground and told to relax to allow the muscles to relax. The barbs are pulled out and the next student is tased. Each student took their turn and each seemed to react a little differently based on where the barbs landed. The distance between the barbs is a factor.
Next, we went to our assigned stations. K-9 was our next avenue where we learned about how the dogs are trained and their skills maintained/honed to keep them to their utmost best. The dogs are all male German shepherds. They do much more than catch criminals. They have been used to track runaway kids, or lost senior citizens. They are cross trained to react to different situations, such as searching for people, drugs, or aggression towards a difficult suspect.
Once we completed our canine demonstration, we went back to the room with the mats and learned some defensive tactics. Many of us have never been in a fight, but into today’s world we may have to defend ourselves even though we never thought that day may come. The police have 40 hours of training in different areas that they complete throughout the year. These training hours are used to review their skill levels, as well as bring in any new techniques.
The Communications Support Team was our next stop. The city has a communications truck that can go to any city or situation and connect the many channels that departments use to communicate. They also have a trailer that has other equipment that can talk to communication centers. On display were cases of radios, repeaters, and laptops that may be used at sites. If a special event occurs in Troy, such as a candidate coming in and staying at one of our hotels, communications and security can be set up within the building.
Our group next went to the Crisis Negotiation Team. This is one of the areas that the officers are trained in, but the skills are not used as a skill everyday on a large scale. They have equipment that they can use in a hostage or dangerous situation to establish communication. The goal is to end the situation in a peaceful way. A phone can be delivered to a house or building by an officer or a robot. Specialty training in this area is done to keep their skills sharp if they are called into action.
Next, we visited the Tactical Support Team (TST). We stood behind a humvee that was given to the Troy Police Department by the Michigan National Guard. It is maintained by the National Guard, but Troy has to supply the fuel to keep it running. The Troy Police Department was the first police department in the State to have a SWAT team. In the TST, the officers volunteer to be a part of this team. They have a long and challenging process to go through before they are accepted as a member. Belonging to this team is a long-term commitment in that the officer will be a part of the team unlike a two or three year commitment. We were shown various tools the officers use in any given situation.
Last, we visited the Hazardous Materials Team area. The police were asked years back to assist the fire department with hazardous assessments and cleanups. Since 9/11, the list of possible situations has grown and we as a city are recognized as being ready to respond to any situation anywhere if called on. We also have other departments involved in using our equipment as needed. Each week, there is a different team that is on-call if the occasion arises. The capabilities range from radiation detection to drugs such as meth labs, or ammonia leaks from trains. The department has a contract with a lab that makes the final determination of what component they may have at a particular site. Troy has two trucks fully equipped for these situations. Again, they can help any local, state or federal departments whether it is in Michigan or surrounding states.
After our demonstrations, our night ended with us returning to the first classroom for a question and answer session.