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Takeaways From My Sheriff's Community Academy Experience

Discussion in 'General Discussions - USA & Canada' started by 1Sandhya, Feb 7, 2022.

  1. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    As promised, here is some additional information about the class/workshop I took.

    Starting from 2016, this is being offered by several large metropolitan cities and counties across the US. You can google your city name or county name followed by the phrases Community Academy, Citizen’s Academy, or Citizen’s Police Academy to find out if one is being offered close to where you stay, and to sign up for it. So you would type in
    <city name> citizen’s academy or
    <county name> Sheriff’s Community academy.
    Use all the combinations possible.

    These are offered by your City PD or your County Sheriff’s Office (if you are from a small town which doesn’t have its own PD) every spring and every fall. Classes meet weekly for around 3-4 hours in the evening for 9 to 12 weeks, depending on city.

    You have to be a resident of the City or the County where the class is being offered. Usually they will get this from your DL and home address. They do conduct a modified background check. They don’t check immigration status, whether you are citizen or dreamer, and back in 2017 made it a point to mention they don’t check for immigration status (this was around the time DACA had just been repealed, and the debate about sanctuary cities was heating up) However if you have any outstanding traffic fines or tickets revealed by the background check they will come after you for that.

    Interesting story: I had delayed turning in my application till almost the deadline. On the last day I decided I’m gonna go, get the form, fill it out and turn it in that very day. The sheriff’s deputy who gave me the form to fill out was adamant that I should take it home to fill out (it’s okay, go home and fill it out, think about it, don’t worry about the deadline) and I was equally adamant (since I know my procrastinating tendencies only too well!) that I’ll just sit quietly in the corner and fill it out and give it back. After some arguing she gave in and allowed me to sit there to fill it out. Later during the class I realized why she had insisted I go home. Apparently the Supreme Court is big on entrapment. Most of the cases they see are challenges on the subject of entrapment. The officers are not supposed to lure citizens into being caught, paying fines or citations. Citizens must be given a chance to escape, to decide if they want to give the info. Basically they cant compel you into giving info which will incriminate you, ie, 5th amendment. So if I had filled the form out then and there and it turned out I was guilty of some crimes that were prosecutable I could successfully put a case that I was lured into giving my details using the excuse of an innocuous sounding class and then caught which is a violation of my civil liberties. This is also why when they set up a DUI checkpoint, it’s located about half a mile past the highway ramp or some other major intersection where the people can safely turn left or right to escape and not get checked (Those who studied/lived in college towns will remember this). And they put up signs that advertise clearly that there’s a DUI checkpoint coming up for at least 2 miles before that in both directions. This is why they do that. It’s a different matter that most college kids see the flashing lights, think they are doomed and proceed like lemmings to the checkpoint. Usually there will be one or more escape points on that road. If it’s a simple two lane road, then that’s an illegal DUI checkpoint! Who knew!

    Anyhow, I was lucky in that I had a clean driving record and no tickets except for library fines of <$2 which they didn’t consider. But I included the story so you remember and don’t make the same mistake!

    In my county, I signed up for <County Name> Sheriff's Community Academy which was offered by my local Sheriff. In my county this was offered simultaneously to teens (mostly HS Seniors/juniors for credit) as well as adults. Here’s the description:

    “The Academy offers a transparent overview into the Sheriff’s Office functions and operational procedures. The curriculum is similar to those of the Sheriff’s Office Enforcement Academy, with a mixture of hands-on training, lecture and scenario based training. The weekly classes are not designed to make the citizens Deputies, but are designed to give the citizens an insight to what Deputies do.

    The classes are taught by Deputies/Sergeants and staff who are employed by the Sheriff’s Office. Classes include Juvenile Crimes, Crime Scene Investigation, Escalation of Force Continuum, Narcotics Trends, along with a tour of the Coroner’s Office, The Sheriff’s Office Specialized teams, and the County Courts.

    Classes will mainly be held at <Local> High School in <City>, with a few dates to be held at off site locations, including the Courthouse, the Medical Examiner's Office, and the Sheriff's Training Facility.”

    We ended up getting a few class lectures on the finer points of law as per state constitution (police is a state subject, not federal), tour of the Courthouse, Jail, Morgue, Coroner’s office, Bomb squad where they made us put on that bulky hazmat suit!, spent a Saturday out at the shooting range where they taught me how to load and fire a musket (like in the westerns, those things are heavy and unwieldy!), a Glock and a very small silver Smith & Wesson - apparently its favored by women because it fits nicely into a purse! We practiced firing real bullets into targets. I was so surprised that they wasted real ammunition on us but apparently they wanted to give us the full experience. In class, we learned about assault and battery, the rape laws, unreasonable search and seizure (the 4th amendment), use of force scenarios where they show scenario like shady traffic stops and ask you to decide in the split second what to do, (this made me think BLM may have been the reason they were trying to be transparent about their policing policies), sex trafficking, labor trafficking, narcotics of all kinds, opium, meth, Rx drugs, paint thinner and weed which was on the brink of becoming legal in my state etc, etc.

    Why is this relevant?
    If you live or work in this country, you must remember that within the first week of joining the Uni or the office, they hold an orientation session with powerpoints and folders where they tell you what is where, and their rules and policies. This I felt is the same. So if you are planning to live in this country for a few years, work and raise your kids here, drive on the streets then this orientation into your City’s policies is a must. Looking back I’m astonished that I took this class after 20+ years of living in the area. But it only started being offered since 2016 as I said.

    Another thing to note is that if your kids go through school, esp. high school system here, they mostly know all this because they are taught all this and take a Government class or elective. But we adult immigrants who come here to UG, grad school, to work or after marriage unwittingly bypass this. This is a chance to rectify that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2022
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  2. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    Folks,

    When I was compiling the information for this post - gathering my thoughts, looking for my notes, checking web for current info etc (I took the class nearly five years ago!) - I realized that a lot of these academies are currently on hiatus or severely modified due to the ongoing pandemic.

    So I’m thinking of posting few takeaways from my class notes in this thread if you are interested.

    Please feel free to query me on any aspect that you want me to elaborate on and I'll try my best to reply.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2022
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  3. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you Sandhya, for taking your time to create this thread. I’m so glad you came back to share your inputs. This thread is very useful!

    After you mentioned this class, I did look up my PD and found the citizens academy and they were accepting applications. The classes are from 7-10 PM on a weekday, for 12 weeks. That’s something that is impossible for me at the moment. If you are inclined to and if time permits please share your takeaways. I’ll sure a lot of folks here including yours truly will be thankful for the tips.
     
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  4. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    @Laks09,
    Will do. :)

    Yes, that sounds right. Applications for the spring session will probably close by late Feb so this is a good time for this post!

    If I may, I urge you to consider doing the class. Since the start you have shown lot of interest in this topic. It’s just one weeknight every week, it’ll go by quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have converted all the lectures to zoom sessions and just the few off sites for in person which would further cut down the days you need to be away. At a minimum email or call the contact and ask them how many sessions are in person vs zoom and see if you can make work.

    I know you have your constraints and limitations and enough on your plate though! :) So I’ll stop.

    If all else fails get your h to go for it.

    I’ll definitely post points from my notes but your cops and policies are governed by the Texas state constitution just like mine are governed by my state’s. Every single state has its own laws and charges for various offenses. So if you want the correct info then attending the workshop is best.
     
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  5. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    It’s fully in person! We don’t have Covid restrictions in TX anymore :)
    I didn’t enroll because I wasn’t able to find anyone who committed to watching my DS at that time. Hopefully, by fall, I can find that reliable sitter.
    I understand state laws differ but hopefully you can give us perspective on PD. Right now, fear of the police keeps people on edge. They are around to protect us and it’s good if we know our rights and responsibilities.
     
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  6. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    Responsibilities of an Officer:
    First day, first class, the cop made it very clear.
    TLDR: When a cop arrives on scene and gives you (the citizen/resident) an order, you have to obey. Period. No ifs or buts. As a peace officer he is empowered to issue lawful orders and citizens must obey those orders.

    Responsibility of Peace Officers:
    When they arrive on scene, their immediate objective is to gain control of the situation or the subject. He does so with ((In escalating order of force)
    first his physical presence, then
    verbal commands, then
    control holds, then
    pain compliance control holds, kubaton, electronic restraint belt, then
    baton (cannot hit in the head, only meaty parts like thigh, butt, bicep, calves) then
    less lethal munitions (pellets, bb guns?) then
    finally deadly force, including firearms.

    Expectations: In order to gain control of the situation Officer should
    - Use reasonable force under the circumstances
    - Use only the amount of force needed to gain control of the subject
    - Use only the amount of force permitted by agency policy.

    Graham V Connor (1989) established how reasonable force must be established.

    The reasonableness of a particular case of use of force must be
    1. Judged from the perspective of a Reasonable Officer
    2. Examined through the eyes of an officer on the scene at the time force was applied, not 20/20 hindsight
    3. Based on facts/circumstances confronting the officer without regard to the underlying intent or motivation
    4. Based on the knowledge that the officer acted properly, under the established law at the time
    If these criteria are shown to be fulfilled, then the court rules that the ‘use of force‘ is justified.

    (I included the criteria because so many times we see in the news about this or that case of ‘use of force’ and later that charges were dropped. This is why.)

    Responsibilities of a citizen:
    All citizens have a DUTY to SUBMIT. All residents are required to submit to a police officer’s legal authority and obey their lawful orders, whether they are detained or arrested, and refrain from resisting the officer’s authority.

    If the officer in plain clothes or off duty, he must show his badge and ID on the citizen’s request.

    What if the officer made a mistake? Or is wrong?

    Argue in court, not on the road.
    When he arrives at the scene the officer's primary focus is to gain control of the situation. If you resist, whatever be the reason, they are trained and authorized to escalate to lethal use of force (if needed) to gain that control. The state of <where ever you live> has given them that authority. So just listen carefully and obey them. Answer to the point, only what they ask. Rambling answers will cause more follow up questions and prolong the encounter. At the end of the encounter, (similar to traffic stops) the officer will give you a paper with his name, id, along with the charge, or the reason for the stop. And just like traffic fine you have the option to appeal the charge or the stop in court. Court is where you are safe, where you/your attorney can invoke finer points of law and obtain justice and compensation on your behalf. Out there on the dark road, or highway, in the heat of the moment, is not the time or the place to resist on a principle or have a discussion about justice with a fully armed officer trying to gain control of a situation.
     
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  7. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    Now the above description of rights and responsibilities may make some people very nervous and they may think they are duty bound to do each and everything the police officer says. This is not so.

    First, re: use of force, you need to understand that -
    -If no resistance is offered, no force is to be used.
    -Individual and his behavior dictates use of force, not the officer.
    -If faced by resistance or threat, the officer need not ie., is not bound to desist or retreat. He is well within his rights to employ reasonable use of force to gain control and maintain control of the situation.

    The 4th amendment is a huge protection for us. (Most have heard about 1st and 5th.) 90% cases in federal and supreme court are police v person cases on the grounds that their 4th Amendment rights were breached. We only get to hear about landmark judgments every now and then like gay marriage or DACA but appealing the officers conduct and action in stops and encounters is the bread and butter of the justice system.

    Consent is a big deal. Although the officers can do a lot of things, for some things, actually many things they need your consent to make the action legal. So they will ask you casually, in an off-hand way during a stop and most people are so nervous/eager to show innocence they just agree without hearing them out. [In some cases when they are advising you of their rights, the cop will tell you that you have the right to refuse this or that. So hear them out fully before nodding your head. Once you nod your head, they have consent, mission accomplished, so they will stop reciting whatever it was you have the right to refuse to. I vaguely remember they mentioned that you do have the right to refuse to submit to a breathalyser test but the cop laughed that most people are so nervous/drunk they just go yeah yeah and take the test. (Still - It's better to take that test on the road itself than hours later in the station because the alcohol metabolizes in your bloodstream and drives up your level of intoxication)]

    Examples of lawful orders:
    "Show me your license and registration!" "Come out of the car!" "Step back (forward)!"

    Requests for which they need our consent:
    "Mind if I take a look?" "I'm sure you'll let me check your backyard, right?" "Mind if I check just to make sure?"

    Even if the cop stops you for speeding, for eg., he cant search your car, unless he has probable cause. If he has probable cause he will tell you that clearly, in legal sounding language. But often they don't.
    Already this is quite verbose, so here's a link that goes into more detail and explains clearly. Make sure you watch the embedded video.
    When can police search your car? | Flex Your Rights

    After going through the link, some may say what's the big deal? I have nothing in my car anyway etc. But there are enough media stories about rogue cops planting **** when allowed to search cars and homes. So to them my reply is "Why take a chance? Why give an opening for something to happen?" The main idea is minimize the interaction lawfully and as much as possible while being courteous and not giving the appearance of resistance.

    ACLU is on your side. If you haven't already get an ACLU membership. ACLU will send lawyers and fight on your side. Even if you don't have membership they will send lawyers if you appeal to them and they determine you have a case i.e., your civil rights were violated. If you get arrested for any reason, spouse or friends may not respond as fast as ACLU will. Helps to have their card in your wallet. Most of the court cases are state v ACLU (fighting on the person's behalf). Many prominent politicians, lawyers and judges did pro-bono work for ACLU while starting their career, including Hilary Clinton etc. ACLU played a huge role in the T**** years and was a firewall protecting all our rights.

    Again the class goes into a lot of detail about traffic stops and other kinds of stops and cases when searches were deemed unreasonable. But I didn't take notes on all the instances. so if you are interested to know more, I suggest you attend the class to learn what policies are specific to your county or state and to get the full story.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2022
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  8. Laks09

    Laks09 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Is there a criteria for someone who genuinely doesn’t understand what the officers are asking? Someone who doesn’t know the language, cannot hear, is disabled etc? I’m all for submission but we recently had a case where 5/6 police cars surrounded a car, guns pulled out and they asked the driver and passenger in the back to raise their hands. The passenger was a child with special needs. He couldn’t comply. They kept blaring the instructions. It could have gone south really bad from there but the driver somehow was able to scream that he has special needs and can’t comply. It seems it was a case of mistaken identity and they left shortly thereafter. It isn’t obvious it’s a disabled person but it’s obvious it’s a child in a car seat. Are there no exceptions for kids?

    Who can consent? Can a minor consent to a backyard search? How about a car search. Many minors drive. When they get in an accident the arriving officers are usually very good with the teen. In fact, they do go easy on the crying teen until the adult gets there. I’ve seen and experienced this in multiple instances. They don’t take the teen’s statement until a guardian is present. If such a person consents to a car search is it valid?

    While you are collating your information, it will be really useful if you have some tips on when to call 911 and when to call the non emergency number or when not to call the cops at all. Especially in cases of abuse, if someone calls 911, what do the police do?
     
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  9. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    @Laks09 ,
    These are all great questions! I'll try to address them one by one.
    I actually dont know the answer to this exact situation. It would be a great question for you to ask your PD.
    In the Q&A after the presentation, people did ask similar questions though. Specifically those questions were: what if the car cant stop even if the driver wants to, due to a malfunction (this was just after the Toyota accelerator jamming incident which had made national headlines).
    The answer: If the driver cant stop he should call 911 and identify himself as the driver of the car (give license plate, make etc) and explain the situation. All police stations and police cars are wired into dispatch and can hear you directly/ dispatch will patch you thru, dont remember exactly which. So this is a safe way of communicating with the police officers chasing you. And then you follow their instructions relayed by dispatch to safely stop or crash the car.
    There was a person who did bring up a similar question as yours, as to drivers' inability to respond, though he didn't specify special needs.
    The response was that if the person is competent enough to pass a driving test and complete the other formalities to get a DL, then they should be able to follow simple commands. Basically he was hinting that the DMV official who rides along during the driving test is also observing you keenly and if the individual is indeed impaired to such an extent that they couldn't understand simple commands, they wouldn't be granted a DL in the first place.
    Also the encounters don't go south as rapidly as is shown in the movies, or is the common perception, unless guns or some threatening actions are involved. Usually all the commands are repeated several times and the driver is given ample time to comply. As long as driver is co-operating, they will not escalate or it is much slower.

    So my class had two sections, run concurrently, one was teens only (Jrs. /Srs.) and other was adults. My understanding was that teens over the age of 16/18 and adults have the power of consent, though there are exceptions esp. in the case of sex assault which I will address in a separate post. But again you should verify this explicitly with your class.

    If a child consents to the search, or if the search is proved illegal in other ways the results of the search will be deemed invalid. The officer used this term - Fruits of a poisoned tree. I.e, if the person is a minor incapable of understanding the implications, who consents to the search, that's an illegal search, and anything incriminating found as a result will be thrown out and the officer reprimanded. So in this case the officer should know better and await the guardian's arrival. And most do.
    Bottom line: Don't worry about these niceties. In the situation the minor should just comply with the officers' direction. Many minors look like majors these days. If he/she is able to, inform the officer they are a minor. But post that, if the officer insists, (it could be a time sensitive situation like chasing a fugitive through the backyards etc.) comply with their requests and sort it out later in court.
    This was very clearly put forth in a post by @SuiDhaaga in the thread about the angry spouse. I would defer to her lived experience. I'm not sure if it's okay to link other peoples work to my thread but it would be great if @SuiDhaaga reposted that here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2022
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  10. SuiDhaaga

    SuiDhaaga Platinum IL'ite

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    Feel free to link or re-post (I’ll take me a while to re-post, I’ll be happy if you can repost :grinning:

    in summary, when I called cop I was crying and hysterical. That evil baby-killer (he caused me to miscarry his own child, even devil won’t do that!) was taking smooth and calm to police.

    I think police saw through the fake talks (they are experienced, not like stupid relatives who think male is hero, female is zero) Plus the Delhi rape case was still in the news so police was more sympathetic towards me.

    one officer says marry someone in USA because in India, people say rape is ok in some situations

    I got order of protection and going to courts was a lonely time.

    they don’t call it lonely planet for nothing!

    I’m happy it is all over and in the past.
     
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