Due to length, the names of those in the Citizens Police Academy class photo follow the story. Photo by Maj. Clyde Adkison
|In September, your Post reporter, Michelle Willard, started the Murfreesboro Citizens Police Academy, which ended earlier this week.
The purpose of the CPA is to give an inside look into the operations of Murfreesboro’s Police Department and make participants active partners in their community.
During the 12-week course, we learned the primary operations and training of MPD. But I also learned how to relate to police officers and the important role they play in the fabric of our community.
||Applications are being accepted for the spring semester of the Murfreesboro Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy, which begins Jan. 12.
Applications can be found at murfreesborotn.gov or at the receptionist’s desk at City Hall. When completed, send or deliver it to the address listed on the form or drop it by City Hall.
There is a $50 fee to attend, but dinner for each session is provided.
On that note, here are the Top 10 (11, because I was that kid in school) things I learned at the Murfreesboro Citizens Police Academy.
1. Honey attracts more flies than vinegar.
When stopped in traffic by a police officer, being nice can possibly minimize the damage.
Officers often have multiple reasons for pulling a car over. And showing respect and being polite can reduce those multiple violations.
“Be nice and you might get a warning or one ticket instead of four,” Sgt. Don Fanning said.
In fact more than 50 percent of tickets issued by MPD are warning tickets.
2. Police officers are more afraid of you than you are of them.
When a patrol officer pulls over a car for a minor traffic violation, it alarms officers when drivers reach around in the car when they are walking toward it, because the officer never knows what you are reaching for. It could be your registration or it could be a gun.
Fanning, a supervisor on the midnight shift, said to know where your registration and proof of insurance is, but don’t reach for it without letting the officer know where your reaching and what you are reaching for.
3. Traffic stops are scary.
The most common point of contact between the public and police is a traffic stop. So cadets were allowed to simulate stops.
The hardest part of the entire experience, for me at least, was knowing what to say to keep the situation under control beyond, “May I see your license and registration?”
The simulations were fun and funny to watch but drove home the important point that every time a cop pulls a car over, he doesn’t know what’s going to step out and meet him. It could be a simple speeder or someone much more dangerous.
4. Where tax money goes.
MPD covers 55 square miles of territory, divided into seven districts, with 162 officers spread out over four shifts.
Officers use more than 100 marked patrol cars, eight motorcycles, six slick-top patrol cars, three unmarked cars and eight bicycles to patrol the streets of Murfreesboro.
5. Domestic violence accounts for most calls for service.
Of all the calls for help received by the Murfreesboro Police Department, 40 percent are domestic violence related, Detective Sgt. Amy Dean said.
When MPD responds to a domestic violence call, the officers always arrive in pairs and determine who the predominant aggressor is. Then the officers are required to fill out a report and make an arrest by state law.
The department always responds to domestics, because of the escalating nature of the violence, she said.
6. TV lies.
In reality, crime scene investigation is a slow and painstaking process, unlike what is shown on crime-based television shows.
If physical evidence is found, the samples, like DNA, trace evidence and even fingerprints, have to be sent off to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for analysis, which can take months.
District Attorney Bill Whitesell said fingerprints are only useful in about 1 percent of cases and the chances for DNA are even less.
7. MPD’s cutest officer can sniff out anything.
Arguably the cutest officer in MPD is Murf, a black Labrador retriever trained to sniff out contraband.
The dog is trained to recognize to smells of various drugs, from marijuana and cocaine to methamphetamines and heroin for a positive reward.
In Murf’s case, the reward is his favorite toy – a tennis ball.
When Murf sniffs out a drug, he’ll dig and scratch where he catches the scent.
8. Moms make the best dispatchers.
MPD’s Communications Department is responsible for answering all calls for service placed within the city limits. Last year that counted for 19,300 calls, averaging 3,100 911-calls per month.
While answering the phone may sound easy, dispatchers have to listen to the phone, the police radio and their Nextels – all at the same time – while relaying that information to officers on the street.
Communications trainer Betsy Lee said moms often make the best dispatchers because they are used to listening in three or more directions at once.
9. Pepper spray is 1,000 times hotter than a jalapeño.
The pepper in the spray used by MPD ranks around 5 million on the Scoville heat scale, which is used to rate the heat in peppers.
In comparison, the common jalapeño rates between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville units. Habanero chilies and Scotch Bonnet Peppers rate between 100,000 and 350,000 depending on the pepper.
10. It takes a village.
Ordinary citizens are the first line of defense in public safety, various instructors stressed throughout the course.
Who knows their neighborhoods and workplaces better than those who live and work there? No one.
So, MPD asks that we all have a watchful eye for out of the ordinary or downright odd events and behavior in our neighbors, coworkers and even friends.
Any information about suspicious behavior or crimes can be reported to MPD at 893-1311, through murfreesborotn.gov or anonymously to Rutherford County Crime stoppers at 893-7867.
Call 895-3874 for more information about crime prevention programs.
11. Dedication is key.
The most impressive and overarching theme of the class was the dedication of Murfreesboro’s police officers.
Some perform multiple jobs within the department with no extra pay. Others go out of their way to train with outside agencies to make sure they are prepared to protect us.
But mostly, all the presenters were enthusiastic about their jobs and the role they play in protecting the people of Murfreesboro.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or email@example.com.
Front Row: (L to R) Christopher Phillips, Diana Salinas, James Vaughn Jr., Linda Vaughn, Michelle Willard, Patricia Eisenbeis, William Jacobs Jr., Angela Miller, John Daly and Kenneth Varbanoff
Middle Row: Mike Grosch, Amy Wells, Katherine Morgan, Katherine Pearson, Haley Moses, Danielle Dixon, Ed Maupin, Joseph Traughber, Collin Kirkpatrick and Felica Stoklasa
Back Row: Lt. Steve Teeters, Asst. Chief Roy Fields, MPD Chief Glenn Chrisman, David Nipper, Greg Wade, Officer Kyle Evans and Deputy Chief Randy Garrett