EVO – High Speeds
Officers go out to the Emergency Vehicle Operations course to learn and practice safe vehicle maneuvering. The course itself is operated by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Division under the Utah Department of Public Safety. This year for the first time they gave permission to the U.P.D. to use the course as part of the Citizen’s Police Academy.
Each of us were able to sit in the passenger seat of one of the U.P.D. police vehicles while they simulated a high speed chase. For safety we were required to wear helmets while in the vehicle. The new Ford Interceptor, because of all the current technology, is an extremely stable vehicles. The older Ford Crown Victoria does not have the same technology so the stability of the vehicle has a lot to do the the skill of the driver. Two of the vehicles driven around the track were Interceptors and one was a Crown Victoria. I rode in the Crown Victoria. It was so much fun to ride around in the police car at high speeds. Inside I was doing my fan girl screaming while on the outside I maintained some sort of decorum.
The second time in the vehicle was a demonstration of the exercises the officers to do learn safe maneuvering techniques. This time I was in an Interceptor. The vehicle felt like it was moving parallel when the driver was maneuvering around obstacles. The other exercise that was simulated was to stop the vehicle in a box from a high speed. Again I maintained my outward decorum while my inner fan girl was screaming.
Tire Spike Deployment
We simulated deploying tire spikes. They are not so easy to deploy. It can be very dangerous.
Part of the training that day was simulating routine traffic stops and high risk traffic stops. Of all the job related activities police officers do, routine traffic stops are the most stressful. This is something that I never considered before. The reason for this is that this situation inherently had many unknowns. Dealing with unknown situations is always the most stressful. This year Officer Douglas Barney from the U.P.D. was fatally shot responding to a traffic accident.
I found for myself that it was more stressful during the routine traffic stop scenario. I could feel my heart rate increase and my breathing become shallow. I had to stop and take a second to start breathing again.
I am not sure I actually have the words yet to express how this experience has changed my understand of police officers. With all of the rhetoric that is going around facebook and the news it feels like everyone wants to distil the current issues around police officers to either police brutality or 100% support for all police actions around the country. The situations and politics around all this are certainly more complex than I was open to see before I started the citizen’s police academy.
The LGBTQ community has often had a difficult relationship with police officers in general. The entire modern American gay culture came into its own and out of hiding partly because of the Stonewall Riots, which was basically a confrontation of a community against the police. I am beginning to see that I had a lot of unconscious views and beliefs about police officers. I am becoming aware of many of them. My heart is opening and my understanding is growing. That is the foundation of healing from conflict. I am sure that I will have more to say on this topic as I attend move of the citizen’s police academy classes.