I know that Route 60 has looked as if it has turned into a satellite website for the Enid Police Department.  I assure you it has not.  However, recently an opportunity came our way that we could not refuse.

 

The Enid Police Department announced quite some time ago that it was going to host a Citizen’s Police Academy.  They said this was in an effort to allow citizen’s to learn more about exactly what goes on at the Police Department.  I know, some of you instantly thought of Steve Guttenburg when I mentioned Police Academy.  Didn’t you?  Admit it.  Or maybe Captain Harris.  I’ll admit it.  I did.  Those movies are golden.

CPA logoHowever, once I got past the imagery of 1980’s movies, I began thinking about it from another perspective.  How neat would it be to give our reader’s an inside look at exactly what goes on at the Enid Police Department?  So, I signed up.  I spoke with both Chief O’Rourke and Lt. Gary Fuxa about some limitations that I would have physically, but they were more than accommodating.  A few weeks ago, I received a formal letter of acceptance and I was officially a member of the first class of the Enid Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy.

If you want canned quotes about what transpired at the first session, you might be best served by reading the article about it over at the News & Eagle.   I’m going to tell you about things that I actually learned from each session.

Tuesday was our first session in what will be a 13 week course at the department.  We were warned that the course will be very hands on.  Lectures will be kept short, but experiences will be plentiful.  We will learn about topics such as narcotics, cyber-crimes, crisis negotiations and much more from the actual officers at the department who deal with those things day in and day out.

First, let me tell you about my fellow members of the Academy.  Its a terrific mix.  I won’t reveal identities, because I don’t have their permission.  But there was convenience store supervisor, an employee of the City of Enid, and a college student who is majoring in criminal justice, just to name a few.  There was even one person who is an avid reader of the Route 60 Sentinel.  He had both good things to say about the site and had one small critique.  I’m’ not worried…I’ll win him over.  The EPD has kept the number of members of this first class limited at around 13.  In the future, they may expand the class to allow for more members.

Our first interaction, was with Chief Brian O’Rourke.  He introduced himself and gave a brief history of his time with the department.  He also discussed the recent remodel of the building, of which we would be given a tour of later.  His speech was familiar to me as a lot of it was echoed in my earlier interview with him a few weeks ago.  He offered us refreshments.  A nice spread of chips, sandwiches, cookies and drinks were available.  Sadly, not one doughnut.

Next, Lt. Gary Fuxa introduced us to all the different aspects of the Academy.  The one impression that I gained from Lt. Fuxa was this.   He never stopped smiling.  For that matter, most of the members of the department were very happy and glad to be doing what they were doing.  Not one person during the whole evening seemed bothered or put off by the fact they were talking to us.  They really seemed to be enjoying the thought of sharing aspects of what they do as much as we were enjoying the thought of learning bout it.

Captain Bryan Skaggs gave a presentation about what the hiring process is like at the department.  He gave a great analogy that will try to relate here.  The department wants to hire sheep dogs.  You see, sheep dogs have one purpose.  To protect the sheep from the wolves and help keep them inline.  That is not nearly as eloquent as he described it, but to be bluntly honest, I had to urinate really badly and was distracted through his analogy.

It absolutely blew me away how intensive the hiring process is at the department.  If there is an opening, you first have to fill out a form online.  After that, they’ll send you an application.  Its not like a normal application for employment.  Its a book.  Seriously.  You have to show that you are physically able to do the job.  You take a polygraph test.  They do background checks on you.  All of this takes 4-6 months.  Then, you take a written test.  They do not grade the written test until after the next step, which is an interview with a board.  After the interview, they will grade the test and if the person scores above a certain level (70), the board will make a recommendation to Chief O’Rourke.

42

Not a good shirt to wear if you want to be a cop

I’d also like to take this chance to point out something about the background checks.  Let’s pretend you want to be a police officer.   Let’s also pretend you have a Facebook page.  It goes without saying that if you have a picture of yourself on there wearing a shirt with a pot leaf on it or one of your friends is a convicted felon….you probably won’t get hired.  Just warning you.

 

He also showed a great video they use to help recruit potential new officers.  I have to admit, after watching it, I wanted to be an Enid Police Officer.  Here it is for your benefit:

Now, I’m the first to admit, when the video started, I could nearly hear the theme from “COPS” playing in my head.  But by the end of the video, I was totally watching it thinking how kick-ass it would be to have a job like that.  It also gave me a great appreciation for what the officers have to go through.   Even further, it demonstrated a lot of the functions that the department provides.

The hiring process ends up taking about one year.  It takes about one full year from the time an officer is hired before he is out on the road by himself.

All totaled, just to hire an officer and train him, it costs the department around $90,000.  They do not take hiring lightly.

After learning about the hiring process, we were treated to a tour of the great facility by Officer Darin Morris and Chief O’Rourke.  For pictures, check out my previous interview with Chief O’Rourke.

This concluded our first session.  One week down, twelve to go.

Until next week……