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Reporting from Citizens Police Academy Spring, 2014

Citizens' Police Academy is an eye-opener.  Happily, my only experience with police work up until April was a couple of traffic tickets and CSI.  I now have a considerably better understanding of the difficulties and the training involved in these very demanding jobs.

My favorite was the shooting range.  It is a singular opportunity to live in an officer’s shoes for a few moments.   I am a gun neophyte and happy to remain that way but taking a few shots with two experts there was unforgettable.  We went through several video scenarios in which you were obliged to make a decision regarding deadly force in a heartbeat or less. 

A close second was the K-9 /Narcotics presentation which tied in perfectly with my experience on the citizens’ ride-along.  The ride-along was shaping up to be exceptionally uneventful – after all, how much chaos is really going to break out during a Sunday May evening in Greenwich? – until it wasn’t.  I watched a traffic stop evolve into a narcotics investigation and arrest.  As I was standing there with the officers, the suspect in handcuffs called over to me and asked “Are you on a citizens’ ride-along?  How’s that going?”  It was going pretty darn well, thanks to him.  The subsequent narcotics presentation, given by two undercover narcotics detectives, provided context for the arrest I had seen previously.  And everyone loved the floppy-eared dog, Cedar, who was visiting from New Milford.

Among the most grueling work dealt with the domestic violence investigations, perhaps because there were few opportunities for conclusive resolutions unlike the tidy stories in “Law & Order” and “CSI”.  I will never forget the detectives’ ongoing dedication to investigations and situations that could grind along unresolved for years.  We also spent two evenings with the Crime Scene Unit as they walked us through the painstaking process of documenting and collecting evidence and unraveled all the misconceptions we had gleaned through those T.V. shows (although I must admit I have new appreciation for Hollywood makeup artists after seeing actual crime scene photographs).

A particular surprise for me has been the number of “big city” police officers who have, for various reasons, opted to transfer to Greenwich, resulting in a depth of experience I could not previously have fathomed.  Finally, I don’t think I have ever seen so many people who truly love what they do every day – it was a pleasure to meet them all.

 - Nora Maloney

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