What I learned at the Citizen's Police Academy:
- It takes 52 hours to get back DNA results - and that's if a rush is requested. Touch DNA (where they can obtain DNA from fingerprints or skin prints) has been perfected in the last 4-5 years. It's still expensive and only used as a last resort, but it is possible.
- The United States Constitution seems to be a document that we all take for granted, and yet it affects our lives daily. Read the Constitution. All of it. Know what it says, and don't trust ANYONE to interpret it for you.
- Municipal judges - your local city judges - have more impact on your daily life than most elected officials, and yet most of us (myself included) know nothing about them, even if we know their names. Make it a point to know your city judges, and elect them accordingly.
- We are programming our kids to be abused. This one hit me hard. If you have kids, have they ever said this, "Mommy, Justin picks on me during recess," or "Dad, Julie pokes me in the back while we're sitting in class"? Did you respond, "Well that just means he/she likes you." Ding, ding, ding. This causes our kids to think that pushing, shoving, slapping, picking is a form of love and they carry that kind of acceptance into future relationships. We need to stop it. Now.
- Uniform Patrol is the heartbeat of any police department. But all the other departments play a vital role, too.
- We are indeed our brother's keeper. The police department cannot be everywhere all the time. From the time this country was founded until recent years, we policed ourselves, but now we've stopped doing that, put up fences, and ignore what is happening around us. We need to tear down some of those fences so that we take care of each other. We are all neighbors.
- Our trainer emphasized that with the police department it's not an "us vs. them" mentality. We are all "us." In several scenarios he presented, he made the comment, if you're the first on the scene of an accident, don't just drive by. If an officer needs help, lend it - don't just continue on your merry way.
- Police work involves massive amounts of paperwork. Every piece of evidence, every statement, every location, every time, every person, every traffic stop must be documented in detail, because it may be used as evidence two, three, even eight years down the road. The paperwork is crucial to keep the bad guys behind bars and to keep the community safe. And the officer is the one responsible for documenting it. As we were working through scenarios ourselves - once we worked a fake crime scene collecting blood and fingerprints - we had to note everything. There were three of us working together, and it still seemed overwhelming.
- The little boxes that evidence is submitted to the lab in have to be assembled by the officer on the scene. We collected samples of blood drops on swabs much like Q-tips, but then after drying, those swabs had to be placed inside a small, thin cardboard box with all the collection information written on the box. The boxes are opened and flat, to make writing easier, but then the officer has to fold and assemble each box himself. Ever taken one of those ASVAB like tests where you have to determine the shape of the box based on its flat drawing? Well, it's like that. Thankfully, our partner Walter excelled in that area.
- In our society, we are taught to be weak. We need to STAY STRONG. We need to say "Not Me and Not Today" about being victims. In recent years, there's been a mentality to just let criminals get away with harming us or our property. We need to have courage and fight back. Refuse to be a victim.
- Designate a "safe room" in our homes. In this safe room, make sure there's a telephone, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and weapons of some sort. Mentally prepare yourself to succeed in securing your family and your home.
- Traditional police work fails without community involvement.
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