It’s hard to believe that it’s already week 9 of the Citizen’s Police Academy. We’ve learned so much, yet there is so much we don’t know. We really only have two more weeks of classroom learning before the session is over. But on the bright side, we have learned so much about our police department. You really do gain a great deal of knowledge about what they do, but more importantly, you learn WHY they do the things they do. The method behind the madness so to speak.
This week, Office Jeff Suttmiller spoke with us about traffic enforcement and crash investigation. He showed us the actual radars they use to detect speeds. He also showed us the newer laser models. Interesting fact: Many people are under the misconception that if caught speeding that the officer has to have you “locked” in at a certain speed and that you can demand to see the readings. The truth is, an officer does not have to show you his radar and he only needs to observe your speed. Locked in or not, if you speed, they can issue you a ticket for speeding.
With the newer laser models, they are able to focus in on very specific areas. While a radar is helpful in detecting speed, it casts a very wide net. A laser can focus in on just a certain area, so they can be certain that what they are aiming at is the speed they measure. And don’t think that just simply because you have a fancy expensive radar detector that can also detect laser, that you will avoid tickets. The fact of the mater is, the laser is aimed at your bumper, not your windshield. So, your laser detector may not even register it. And even if it does, if your laser detector goes off, it’s probably already too late for you to change your speed.
Another interesting fact: Did you know that any ticket that is issued for you going 11mph or above will go on your driving record?
A great question was brought up by someone in our class. There is currently an issue at Garfield Elementary and Prairie View Elementary. They don’t seem to have school zones. Crosswalk? They don’t exist either. How about sidewalks for kids to walk on as they go home? No, the Prairie View kids are forced to walk near traffic or in ditches that are sometimes water logged or muddy. I’ll bet those kids can’t wait for snow drifts of 5ft in those ditches this winter.
Speaking to the school zones, whose responsibility is it to set up a school zone? Enid Public Schools, according to the EPD, has said it’s a City issue. The City says it’s up to the EPS. Everyone keeps passing the buck. Another area that is in need of at least some sort of signage is bus stops. There is a bus stop out near Johnstons Grain on 30th (I believe the stop is on the East/West street running near the elevator) that has no signage warning anyone to slow down or that there is a bus stop there. Trucks go through there at pretty hefty speeds. Now, this is not an EPS district area. It’s a Pioneer deal. But is still in the limits of the City of Enid. If I can get up on a soap box here, would it be so damned hard for the school districts and the City of Enid to get together and take care of these things? Split the damn costs. It’s all taxpayer money, and quite frankly, I don’t want a kid dying because someone forgot to think about putting a school zone in when they built a new multi-million dollar school. Seriously. City of Enid, Enid Public Schools, and Pioneer. I’m calling you out. FIX THIS.
It’s also worth pointing out that there are some school zones that have changed recently. The Middle Schools and some of the elementary schools no longer have a school zone during the mid-day time period. Some do and some don’t. So, how do you know which do and which don’t? Look at the sign. What does it say? Is the light flashing? We’re adults, this is easy. We can figure it out…..I think.
Officer Suttmiller showed us one of the new toys of the Enid Police Department. They now have the ability to issue tickets electronically. They have a hand-held device that they can use to scan a driver’s license when they pull someone over. It puts the information from the card directly into their handheld device. They then can enter pertinent information and issue tickets with this system. They no longer have to write out 4 tickets if you violated 4 laws. The new system allows them to simply put the 4 violations in at once and they system takes the information and does the work for them. This saves officers a tremendous amount of time.
At this point, to demonstrate the system, Officer Suttmiller asked for a volunteer to allow him to scan their license so that he could show us how it worked. I gladly volunteered mine. I jokingly said, “Please God…..no warrants.” Thankfully, there were now warrants (I had no real doubt). However, a smirk appeared on Suttmiller’s face. “No, you don’t have any warrants, but I’m sad to say that your license expired in September,” he said. D’oh! I’m actually thankful that Officer Suttmiller scanned my card. Who knows how long I might have gone without knowing it was expired?
Interesting fact: There are no quotas.
Interesting fact: It is completely up to the officer who pulls you over as to whether or not he issues you a citation. It’s called officer discretion.
One last thing that Officer Suttmiller tried to impart on us was something that he really tries to instill into the trainees, and that is to be nice to the people you pull over. If you walk up to a car with all kinds of attitude, it doesn’t do any good. The person in the vehicle is already pissed, freaked, or scared that they’ve been pulled over. He doesn’t want them to make things worse. Some cops listen and abide by that and some do not.
CRIME SCENE TECHNOLOGY:
To his credit, Officer Suttmiller really did a great job answering questions and explaining things. However, this really caused Crime Scene Tech Tim Hess some time constraint issues. It was nobodies fault. However, to HIS credit, Mr. Hess did an excellent job of talking to us about finger prints. He explained the intricate details of how finger prints are different and yet how they also have certain common traits. Some of the traits are more common and some are more rare.
At this point, we got to play. We all fingerprinted ourselves on a fingerprinting card. I did a horrible job at it and it’s actually harder than you think when you are doing it yourself. We then had a plain piece of cardboard on which we were to place an additional fingerprint of our choice. After that was complete, we were given magnifying glasses to examine our own prints and see just how detailed they were. It actually was very interesting to see. I mean, I’ve seen fingerprints, but never that close. It really was quite fascinating.
We then were able to do a little experiment. We exchanged our cards and additional print other classmates to see if they could figure out which print was used on the additional print. I switched with classmate Jarred Helm. We both were able to figure each others prints out fairly quickly. I then looked Kristi Matal’s, you may remember her as the nice lady that was tased last week. I was unable to discern her print. So, it was easy to understand how sometimes matching a print is an easy task and then other times, a very hard task.
Next week, we will be outside the classroom. Doing what? All I will say is, “Boom goes the dynamite!”