Last night my son and I graduated from Radnor Township’s Citizens’ Police Academy. We got to “march” in with the police, and took our seats at the front of the room. Along with the police officers, there were several dignitaries who attended the ceremony, including several members of Radnor’s Board of Commissioners, a member of Delaware County’s Council, the District Attorney, a judge from Delaware County, and the founder of the Radnor Community Police Organization.
The ceremony was the culmination of a nine week program that gave us a glimpse into what the job of a police officer is like.
Some of the highlights of the program:
- driving one of the police SUVs through an obstacle course (I was told I topped out at a whopping 13 miles an hour),
- a four-hour ride along (which I wrote about previously)
- failing miserably at a video simulation of being out on patrol and watching my partner get killed, while all I could do was yell “Stop!”
- a chance to simulate a domestic abuse situation
- a chance to investigate a simulated crime scene
- learning how fingerprints are acquired
- the chance to watch one of the police canines retrieve a pair of keys that had been tossed into a field (at night)
- to see and learn about the various emergency vehicles available to the township and the county
- having members of the SWAT team tell us about what they do
- a visit one night from the District Attorney who gave a brief overview about the role of his office
- a visit from a local judge who provided an overview of how the court system works, with a particular focus on child trafficking
- simulating a field sobriety test while impaired
- the opportunity to pull someone over for a traffic violation (simulated, of course)
As you can see, the amount of planning and time and resources that the Township committed to this program was phenomenal.
But the best part of the program, besides bonding with my fellow students, was getting to know many of the police officers on a more personal level.
I’ll admit that while I came into the program with an overall positive opinion of police in general, I did have some concerns. Police around the country have received a significant amount of negative publicity in the past few years, and that publicity has had an impact on me. I began to think that many police were trigger happy and guilty of racial profiling, and lacked proper training for many of the situations they encountered.
After this nine week program, if my interactions with the officers of Radnor Township are representative of police in general, I now have nothing but great things to say about police.
The police I met are incredibly committed to making our community a safe and healthy place for people to live and work. They go through rigorous training not just to become an officer, but to maintain that position as well. They rely on that training to kick in when they are faced with stressful situations, and have learned how to remain calm while trying to restore order in a crisis. They are willing to put themselves into dangerous situations in order to protect others. They often see people at their worst, but treat everyone they meet with respect.
In other words, they are true professionals, and we are blessed to have such outstanding men and women (and dogs) serving our community.
So thank you to everyone who was involved in organizing and participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy.
And thank you to police everywhere for all that you do for your community.
And even though I have no desire to be a policeman, I look forward to giving back to the Township as a member of the Radnor Community Police Organization.