The Crime Lab is part of the Forensic Investigations Unit. All of the officers that work in this unit are highly trained and highly educated. There is a lot of demand to work in this department. The U.P.D. puts a lot of effort into their forensic science. I was very impressive.
They have some state of the art equipment that allows them to collect fingerprints that go beyond the standard methods. They have recently acquired a digital fingerprint scanner. The first time I experienced a digital fingerprint scanner was at the immigration office in Sweden. We were also shown the file room where all of the booking fingerprint cards are stored. Digitized fingerprints are revolutionizing forensic investigations making it simpler to match fingerprints collected at crime sites.
There was so many fascinating things at the crime lab. I do not understand the science well enough to be able to adequately describing it in this blog post. I had so much fun though learning about all the different techniques that they have available to them to solve a crime. It is really an impressive department.
I had the opportunity to sit down with two different dispatcher and listen in as they were doing their jobs. I did not realize that their job actually entailed so much. Now I get to admit my past ignorance. I thought that they just took 911 calls and direct calls for the police department and fire department. Understand I do not watch a lot of cops shows.
The fist dispatcher I sat down with was in charge of the Oquirrh area of Salt Lake County. He was actively monitoring five different radio channels, taking phone calls and dispatching police officers to various locations. All of this was going on while he was also explaining his job and how the different radio channels worked.
The second dispatcher I sat down with was primarily taking phone calls. Phones calls come in with only a few second warning. If you are on, a phone call can come in at any moment even if you are right in the middle of a tense situation on the radio with an officer.
Because of all the noise around me I was not able to clearly hear what was said on the radio channels. The dispatchers have trained themselves to hear lot of different sounds at once and distinguish them. This is certainly the ultimate multi-tasking job. They have to be in full attention and full energy mode their entire working shirt. It is a job I would not be suited for. I understand better how Dispatch is a vital part of the Unified Police Department.
Positive Self-Identity Is not modeled,
For Queers like me.
– my first Model of Positive
The last line Now we shan’t
Never be parted
Alec speaking to Maurice.
River of tears
Flooding into barren
Carrying deep rich loamy soil.
Just right for lush growth of
[Originally published by the SLCC Community Writing Center
for the Damn These Heels Film Festival in 2016]
I have seen the Salt Lake County Jail a number of times. Not realizing it was a jail, I thought it was just a big warehouse. The county jail is a two story cement building with no windows. Walking up to the building for the first time was when I realized this building is the prison. It is a maximum security jail. This is accomplished by the design of the building. There are no fences or guard towers around it.
Entering the heart of the jail felt like walking into a real life sci-fi dystopia. Moving from one section of the prison to another section required passing through two doors. You would enter the first door into a small area. Once in that small transition area you would have to wait till the first door closed before the second door would open. All the doors are opened remotely by a prison guard in a different area of the prison. There is a name for this kind of system but I do not remember.
All the surfaces in the building were either cement or stainless steel. It felt very harsh and sterile. The smell was a mix of industrial cleaners, body order, and dirt. The colors felt drab and slightly grey.
For the most part the staff, including the jail guards were helpful and friendly. I realize that it would be a different relationship if I was a prisoner there. One of the guards made a comment about how the design of the building made it difficult for rehabilitation programs. This building was designed to extract a pound of flesh for the crime committed. For most of the people in the prison maximum security was overkill.
Another comment that was made, that really stuck with me was about how people do not want half-way houses in their neighborhood. But the truth is that the prisoners when released from jail end up in their neighborhoods in the houses and apartments anyways, just hidden from view. Wouldn’t it be better if they were in a half-way house where they were drug tested daily and required to either work or go to school.
At the very end of the tour I overheard a discussion about the difference between a prison and a jail. For a lay person like me I do not see any difference it is basically a technical one. If it is run by a city or county it is a jail. If it is run by a state or the Federal Government it is a prison.
I walked away better understanding this common mentality that seems to be preventive in American society. If something is Out of Site – it is Out of Mind. If the county jail had a fence around it I would have viewed the building differently upon first seeing it. Guard towers would add to my awareness. I am just beginning to become aware of the actual cost to society in terms of monetary and social cost that are associated with prisons and jails. I might choose different methods of restitution and rehabilitation rather than this idea that every crime must be paid for with a pound of flesh.
Because of a series of serendipitous events I have a spot in the Citizen Police Academy (CPA) put on by the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake. This is an eleven week program were ordinary citizens have the opportunity to learn about the day to day operations of the police department. It is offered once a year and limited to only 40 adults. The day before I inquired about it 2 people had dropped out of the course as a result a spot opened up.
This is especially relevant now because it was my intention to reformat my blog and start blogging again. This opportunity to attend the CPA therefore is the perfect time to start blogging again. It is currently a tense political climate around the police and policing in America. Gaining more knowledge about what it is like to be a police officer will be very helpful in my ability to engage in intelligent conversation around this topic.
In a less intellectual sphere some of the areas that will be covered in the class excite the more masculine part of myself. Of late I have had a lot of fun with my various explorations of a more gender bending personal expression. I do not see any of these activities as inherently masculine. They just excite the more masculine part of my personality which occasionally wants to be expressed.
Some of the subject areas covered are: [the following list comes from the UPD Website]
- Jail Tour
- Court House
- Crime Lab
- Firearms Training
- Non-Lethal Weapons
- Swat / Special Operations
- Traffic Stops / High-Risk Stops
- Violent Crime
- Special Victims Unit
- Domestic Violence
- Building Searches
- Crash Analysis Reconstruction Team (CAR Team)
- Scenario (Day in the life)
In addition this year there is a bonus class at the Emergency Vehicle Operations Range which I am really excited about. This class and the time on the gun range are a cause lots of excitement for masculine Keith.
I will be blogging about each of the classes that I attend. I look forward to gaining a better appreciation of what it is like to be a police officer as a consequence of attending CPA. For any of you who are interested you can follow along with me via my blog.
Saying goodbye is difficult especially when it is a place that you really love. Sweden is one of those places. No place is a utopia but Sweden is certainly a beautiful country and there was a lot of positives about living there. I have avoided writing in my blog pretending that if I do not that day would never come. Not only has the day come but I am now two weeks into my return to the United States. This is by no means a permanent goodbye but only a temporary parting. Sweden will always be a part of me. More so now that I have lived there. Sweden has forever changed me.
Of all the things that I did and experienced in Sweden the highlight was getting to know my mother-in-law better. Through that experience I gained a new mother. I will always be grateful for that. And even now two weeks on I miss her. I added three fun nephews and one adorable niece and some new siblings to my family. Vanim’s family welcomed me and I feel as if I am part of their family now. So not only have I left a part of my heart there but I have left behind part of my family.
It was not easy deciding to return to America but in the end I chose the path that I think will be the best for my immediate family in the long run. Now that the decision has been made I will do that best I can to make this a successful choice. Really in the end that is all I can do.
I will continue to write in my blog because I find it useful for me. The nature and purpose of my blog will of course naturally change. It will evolve and change into something new. So for now good bye Sweden and I will see you again.
Hej Då Sverige! Vi Ses!
Last Thursday the Sweden’s King came to Kristiandstad to celebrate the city’s 400th birthday. In the early afternoon there was a parade with the King from the museum to the main city park. many people had come just to see the King in person. As the king got closer I was taking pictures and realized that I had yet to see the king, up to that point I had only seen him though the lens of my camera. I put my camera down and then began to have a more meaningful experience.
After the parade ended the king moved to the gardens in the park to plant a tree. The crowd naturally followed to watch. I managed to arrive before the majority of the people and secured a good spot to watch the proceedings. The crowd turned out to be more interesting to watch. The crowd clamored to catch a glimpse of the King. A large portion of them had there eyes glued to cameras or video recorders. There was one woman in particular who never once removed her eyes from her cell phone camera as she pushed her way through the crowd in an attempt to capture the best possible picture.
Pondering over this experience gave me some better insight. In my life going forward I want to be more present in my experiences, to experience more ,photograph less and be more mindful of the photos I do take. I want my blog to be more about what I write. I started it mainly out of my love of writing. Over time it has move more towards pictures and has involved less writing. Now I am refocusing my attention more on writing with less reliance upon pictures.
In the end I do not want my life experienced only through the lens of a camera.
This festival takes place on the evening of April 30th. It is a celebration to welcome in Spring. Doing research on this specific festival I have found a lot of information some of it contradictory. It appears some form of celebration has been going on in Sweden going back to pagan times. The current celebration of lighting bonfires came about in the early 1900’s or late 1800’s. Each area of Sweden has their own slight variation on this celebration.
We went out to the village of Gärds Kopinge. Everyone who wanted to carry a torch to light the bonfire met at the elementary school. After all the torches were lite we walked from the school to a park next to the river where there was a large pile of tree branch trimmings and old Christmas trees. We circled around the pile and threw our torches onto the fire. We then stood around watched the fire burn. In some places I understand there is also singing and sometimes dancing. Here people just stood in groups socializing and watching the bonfire. Afterwords we had a nice dinner to complete the celebration.
Earlier in the afternoon Van and I were married a the Kristianstad rådhuset. This day was for us is now more than just valborgsmässoafton. It was our wedding day. I feel that a big bonfire is an appropriate way to celebrate our anniversary every year.
To Americans the witch is associated with Halloween but here in Sweden it is associated with Easter (Påsk). The old traditional story is that on the Thursday before Påsk the witches fly away to meet up with Satan. On the 30th of April large bonfires are lite to scare the witches away so that they wont return. But that is for another post coming soon to a webpage near you. Nowadays children dress up as witches on the Thursday before Påsk and often seek candy from neighbors similar to Halloween in the United States. A traditional decoration for Påsk is to take birch branches and cover them in colored feathers. This is called Påskris. The påskharen brings godis (candy) which is an Easter hare instead of an Easter rabbit. Eggs are painted not dyed (äggmålning).These are just some of the traditions that make this a Swedish holiday.
According to www.sweden.se :
While in other countries Easter is specifically a religious holiday, it has become a secular one in Sweden. . . Many of the practices associated with Easter have religious origins, but this is not something that bothers Swedes much.
So to all Glad Påsk!
Fjälkinge Backe is the hill in east of Kristianstad just north of Fjälkinge in Skåne in Sverige . It is a granite outcropping surounded by the Kristainstad pains. At one time it was part of a mountain before warmer temperatures raised the sea level and flooded this area of Sweden. This was about 100 million years ago. The granite mountain was covered over with a thick layer of sediment. Fjälkinge Backe is one of a few places where erosion has revealed the higher areas of the now hidden granite mountain. On top of the hill there is a great view of the of the surrounding area.