Monday, October 31, 2011

New Attitude? Old Attitude? What's in an Attitude Anyway?

I'm not particularly fond of the word attitude. It has to do with my history with the word, but I don't want to go into that at this point.

I have been making an effort to confront things that I would normally avoid, so I am going to talk about why the word attitude is on my mind lately. See, I've recently realized my attitude has undergone a change. At first this scared me because I felt an attitude emerging that I haven't felt in probably twenty years. And, there's a huge part of me that doesn't want to be who I was then. There were things about that girl that I really didn't like, even then. There were other things about her that I loved.

Crazy thing is that as I embraced the attitude I've been feeling over the past several weeks, I realized this is just more of me stepping into who I am. I can face - perhaps even embrace - having a new attitude even if it is an attitude rooted in an attitude I abandoned long ago.

For so long I pushed aside anything that reminded me of that girl because I thought she was the cause of every problem in my life. I thought if I could erase everything about her, everyone around me would have a better life. So I abandoned the good along with the bad.

Over the last several weeks, I've felt my attitude shift. It's a little hard to explain, but I'll do my best. I hadn't even realized my attitude had become so passive, so malleable, so scared... Then I started feeling more like I used to feel. I started feeling like I can do things again, like I can accomplish whatever I want, like I'm worth everything I ever wanted for myself. I started feeling confident and strong. I started feeling like no one can touch who I am at my core. I started feeling like if people can't see what I have to offer when I show them, they're not worth my time. I shrugged off the feelings, but I kind of liked them. I say feeling because I already knew these things I just didn't feel them.

Recently, while I was shopping, I tried on a couple of outfits and stared at myself  in the mirror. I liked what I saw. I saw a strong, sexy, vibrant woman staring back at me. I was tempted to ask her who she was. I liked her. I remembered her. I recognized me in her and her in me.

My attitude is shifting to one of like me or leave me because this is what you get. My attitude is shiftng to one that says you will treat me like I deserve to be treated or you can exit stage left, or right. Who cares? Just go. My attitude is shifting to one that says I am worth the very best and I know it, so give me your best or go away. My attitude is shifting to one that says I'll reach out, but if you don't reciprocate, I'm done. My attitude is shifting to one that says if you want me in your life, prove to me you deserve to have me around. My attitude is shifting to one that says I will give all I've got, but only if you do the same. My attitude is shifting to one that says I'm not chasing you, but I'm not turning my back on you either. My attitude is shifting to one that says if you can't be here for me when I'm hurting and I need you, don't expect me to jump when you're ready to re-engage. Maybe I will and maybe I won't. It's my decision. My attitude is shifting to one that says only I get to define me, and if you don't like that definition, well, no one says you have to...

Yeah, those of you who knew me in college and haven't seen me in years, are saying "Huh? That's always been your attitude."

But the truth is I pushed that attitude down deep in an effort to be "perfect" or at least to fit other people's image of the "perfect" me. I became what I despised, someone willing to deny herself in order to keep peace. I gave up thinking I even had the right to what I wanted in life. I gave up thinking I could do this or that or the other just because someone else voiced a negative opinion about how I did something. Well, no more... My way may not be your way, but if it works it still counts. It it doesn't work, then I'll learn and move on. If I need your help, I'll ask. And when I say help - I mean help. Don't take over. I'm an intelligent, capable, attractive woman, and I'd advise you not to forget it.

Oh, and if I feel like crying, I'm going to cry. It's not a sign of weakness, and it's not a manipulation. They're tears, and they serve as a release of emotion. Get over it.

If I want to laugh, I'm going to laugh. I don't care if you get the joke or not. It isn't about you.

I've written a lot of poems about the struggle to grow into the person one is meant to be. My poems encompass losing one's self, pretending to be someone "better" by someone else's definition, the events in life that define who one is, and embracing one's true self. I've compiled a number of these poems into my upcoming book of poetry, Reflections in Silhouette, in hopes others will find them inspiring and encouraging while on the journey to grow into their true selves!

This is my life, and, guess what, you're a part of it because I choose for you to be. I can change my mind at any time. I don't say that to make you feel insecure. I only want to make sure you know that I know I am enough on my own; however, I am better when surrounded by people who love me, lift me up, inspire me, and cherish me and allow me to do the same for them.

So, that's the way it's going to be from this day forward.

Yeah, I like this attitude. It suits me...

So like Patti LaBelle sang in the 1980s, I've got a new attitude. Or maybe I've got a new old attitude... Either way, this is what I've got to offer. Like it or don't, it's your choice.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cover for Love in Silhouette

Love. We long for it. We feel the sting of love’s loss. We give love in hopes of receiving love. We withhold love out of fear it won’t be returned. Love connects us. Love disappoints us. Love distinguishes us. Love extinguishes us. Love connects us. Love abandons us. Love disappoints us. Love creates expectations. Love fulfills lives. Love is always a risk worth exploring even when it fails. Love is poetry… Poetry is love… Love becomes a silhouette.

Check back soon for the release date!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Albany Citizens Police Academy - Week 8 - Use of Force & Jail Tour

This week's Albany Citizens Police Academy started with Community Education Specialist Carmen Westfall started the class with a few reminders about upcoming classes. Then introduced Lieutenant Hyde.

Lieutenant Hyde explained the law surrounding use of force. He explained the effect that case law has on state statutes. Use of force is always determined by the situation but is governed by five rules:

Self Defense
Defense of Others
Effect an Arrest
Overcome Resistance
Prevent Escape

In determining the amount of force to use, the officer must interpret the suspect's intent as well whether the suspect has the means and the opportunity. All three elements must demonstrate all three elements in order to be an immediate threat. The level of force the officer uses must then be a level above the level of threat the suspect is using and must be reasonable for the situation. Reasonable is determined by what other officers would do in the same situation.

Officers must be mentally prepared to use deadly force, so they train for it extensively. Even with training, the use of force, especially deadly force, is never an easy decision to make.

Officer Hyde discussed using a taser. He explained how a taser works and passed around a cartridge. He spent a significant amount of time explaining how the taser affects the body. The taser incapicitates rather than creating a pain reaction. He finished by shooting the taser into a piece of cardboard to demonstrate how it worked. Then he tore out the wires and passed them around, so we could feel and see them up close. Following that he removed the batter and cartridge from the taser and passed it around, so the class would see it, feel the weight, and hold it. I pulled the trigger. What could it hurt? It was completely disarmed. Felt like a toy gun.

Several items used in force of use training were in the front of the room throughout the presentation. After the presentation and before we went to the Sheriff's Office/Jail, we had an opportunity to look at and handle the items used for training officers in proper use of force.

Officer Hyde provided insight into the thought process of officers in determining how and when to use force was quite informative and interesting.  This is information I can definitely use in writing crime fiction!

The jail tour was led by Deputy Hedrick. We saw the video room where prisoners do televised court. We saw the rooms where prisioners are monitored. Deputy Hedrick took us to the Intake area and explained the process in detail. After that he showed us the jail's dentist office, the medical office, and the visitors' area. After that we saw the cell blocks where the inmates live including the towers where the jail is monitored.

Deputy Hedrick answered every question the class asked and provided details and examples to clarify the role of the jail in the juvenile justice system.

The Linn County Jail is much larger than I expected but otherwise it wasn't all that different from the jail I toured several years ago when I was in college.

The chemical odors from the cleaning supplies gave me a headache reminding me why I gave up chemical cleaning products and started making my own several years ago.

I actually considered skipping the jail tour, but I'm glad I didn't. The information Deputy Hedrick shared and being immersed in the environment might prove useful in a future writing project.

Many of the classes haven't really provided direct information that I find useful for my foreseeable writing projects, but both portions of this week's class did. I'm always pleased when I learn something useful for my writing! In case you're wondering there are two more classes and then graduation, so there will are three more scheduled blog posts about the Albany Citizen's Police Adademy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Albany Police Academy -Week 7 - Class Two - Evidence, Records, Dispatch, & Firearms Training

Saturday's Albany Police Academy class started with a tour of the evidence room lead by Property & Evidence Specialist Debbie Buchert. She explained the different evidence storage techniques and apparatuses including paper bags, plastic bags, and boxes. Plastic bags are never used for anything wet that could mold. Boxes are often used for handguns and other weapons that fit in them boxes. Some weapons are too big for a box or a bag. She talked about the process for logging evidence and how it's improved with the use of a computerized system. She explained the process for disposing of property from the evidence room. Evidence that isn't returned to the owner can be sold with the proceeds going to the department (see or destroyed by fire once it is no longer needed and the designated time period it must be kept has passed. Some evidence must be kept for many years.

One discussion that seemed particularly disturbing to me was regarding anonymous rape kits which in the state of Oregon must be kept for twenty-five years. I didn't find this nearly as unreasonable as some other members of class did. I understand that the kits take up space and that there is no case without a complaintant, but I also understand how devastating it can be for a rape victim to come forward, to put herself to be in the position to be judged by something that wasn't her fault, to be forever placed in a role publicly she can never change. To me it makes sense that a woman might feel more likely to come forward after learning she wasn't the only victim of the person that raped her. This might seem unlikely to happen, but it's not impossible. With the kit in evidence, at least there's something. Okay, twenty-five years might be a tad excessive, but I understand the idea behind it...

Once Buchert finished explaining the way evidence is handled, processed, and destroyed, she turned us over to Mike Peaslee, who explained how the records are handled and accessed by police officers and others.  We then visited dispatch to hear a little about what happens when a call comes in and to watch dispatch at work. Then Peaslee explained the role of those who work the reception area and showed us the records area and explained the process of storing, keeping,and digitizing records and how they are handled.

Finally, we made it to the highlight of the day - Firearms Training - lead by Officer Dezi Meza. Okay, it was simulated shooting, but we used the actual training videos the police officers use to train. Each class member took a couple of turns. After each students' turn, Officer Meza would point out what the student did right and what the student missed. All was handled with a fun attitude keeping the excercise enjoyable.

When my turn came up, I took the "gun" in my hand and realized not for the first time that I'd never shot a gun. I grew up around guns. My Daddy, my Grandpa, and my Uncles hunted. I grew up on a farm. Guns were always around. Daddy had a gun cabinet full of them. Yet, Daddy never let me shoot one. I probably never showed any interest. I really don't remember. The point is as I settled my hands around the gun, I was surprised how natural it felt. Okay, I'd held guns before, but never with the idea of shooting.

Officer Meza told me I was going to face a mentally ill person. As soon as the woman in the video stepped out of the house holding the gun, I had a flashback to a time when I really looked down the barrell of a gun pointed at me while the person threatened to shoot me. I blinked away the image but realized I'd missed the woman's actions. In a real life situation, that likely would've cost me my life. Anyway, Officer Meza stopped the video and asked me what I noticed. I snapped out of my reverie and answered that I noticed she had a gun in her hand but that she hadn't pointed it at me. Still, I realized I should've pointed my weapon at her, so I did as soon as the video restarted. I told her numerous times to put down her weapon and to calm down. Then a point came when she started to move the weapon up so it wasn't pointing at the ground anymore. I shot her in the stomach and took her down with one shot. I couldn't believe it and from the surprise in the instructor's voice neither could he.

He asked me why I chose to shoot when I did, so I explained my reasoning. He said that many officers wouldn't have waited that long and that I'd instructed her to put the gun gun more than enough times to know she wasn't going to. Still, I didn't regret waiting until I saw her start to raise the gun, and he didn't say I was necessarily wrong...

Somehow this simulated situation made me realize how recklessly I'd acted all those years ago when I faced a real gun and talked the person holding it and screaming at me out of shooting me. It would've only taken a moment, a simple squeeze of the trigger she had her finger on to end my life. At the time, I hadn't even been frightened. I'd been so sure I could convince her not to shoot me that it hadn't even occurred to me to be afraid. Geez, I keep asking myself what I was thinking that day...

He started my second video, a suspicious vehicle under a bridge. As I watched the video which simulated approaching the suspicious vehicle in a car, getting out of the car, and approaching the vehicle, it reminded me of Boise. Funny the things that pop in your head when you're waiting for the action. Two girls walked around the suspicious vehicle. I quickly glanced at them and decided they were up to something but were a distraction and not an immediate threat. I'm not sure why. I kept my focus on the car. As soon as one of the girls said something like "Now" toward the car, I focused my gun on the car's door. A guy stepped out. I pulled the trigger as soon as I saw him and the weapon in his hand. I wasn't even sure what weapon he held, but it's glint and the position in his hand made it clear it was a threat. I hit his knee, so it definitely wasn't a kill shot.  I was ready to shoot again, but the video ended.

Oh, well, I was just happy I hit my target at all!

The rest of the class took their turns. When everyone had had a turn and the instructor asked if anyone wanted to go again. I was tempted to say yes, but I didn't. I'm not sure why I didn't. Oh, well!

One of the other students asked Officer Meza to demonstrate how it should be done. He did, and it was rivoting. He did a video from earlier in the class, and the way he handled it seemed so much more reasonable than what any of us had done. He talked to the people, gave warnings, and seemed perfectly confident. It made sense because he has training in diffusing situations, and those of us in the class really didn't. I'd had a little training many, many years ago when I worked in a group home, but I remember very little of it.

I went into today's class expecting to learn how a police officer feels when facing a situation that demands s/he decide whether or not to use his/her weapon. Instead, I learned something about myself. I actually thought I'd freeze even though I knew it was a simulation. I didn't freeze. I learned that I can and will protect myself if I have to, but that I could never take a human life without being absolutely sure it was the only option. It's why I gave the woman who wasn't pointing a weapon at me but only at the ground a chance and why I shot as soon as I saw the flash of weapon from the man exiting the suspicious vehicle.

Oh, and I also realized, I might actually be able to handle a gun with a fair degree of accuracy if I had to or at least with a little training...

I just keep learning that I can actually do things I never thought I could do for one reason or another.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Albany Citizens Police Academy - Week 7 - DUII & DRE

Community Education Specialist Carmen Westfall passed out our Albany Citizens Police Academy t-shirts as we arrived! She gave us a quick update about to expect in the next few classes.
Next OfficerRobert Hayes took over to talk about Driving Under the Influence and being a Drug Recognition Expert.

Officer Hayes began by clarifying the answer to a question from when he taught the traffic class two weeks earlier. Apparently when any part of a person or any extension of a person (i.e. a walker, dog, weekchair) steps from curb to crosswalk with intent to move forward that person is considered crossing the street and people in a vehicle must wait for them to cross. As someone pointed out, intent can still be subjective.

Moving on to discuss DUII, Officer Hayes discussed statistics, penalties, and other reasons to demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving. Officers work to keep drunk drivers off the streets for safety.

Officer Hayes demonstrated the "walk and turn" test and the "standing on one leg" test for the class as well as explaining that the reason officers ask multiple questions when pulling over a suspected drunk driver is that the driver's ability to multi-task and converse can be affected by alcohol. The eyes of people who have overconsumed alcohol or used drugs show a distinctive involuntary jerking motion called nystagmus that can't be concealed.

He then chose a class member to put on the Fatal Vision goggles and attempt the walk and turn test to demonstrate how alcohol affects one's ability to take the test. Anoher class member put on the goggles and demonstrated standing on one leg test.

During the break, he put the goggles in the back of the room, so the class could try them on and see how alcohol effects the body. I tried them on and tried both tests. The .06 BAC goggles I could still do both tests. The .08 BAC goggles not even close. They even made me feel a little nauseated. Some people had a really strong effect to putting them on and described seeing their legs to the side of them. I didn't have that sensation exactly, but I did recognize the off-balance feeling from the times I've over-imbibed. I found it strange to things through drunk eyes while sober.

Officer Hayes discussed the training for Drug Recognition Experts and the importance they serve. Drug Recognition Experts are trained to see and understand the effects of myriad drugs on the body. The body has a homeostatis line that it strives to maintain. As the body adjusts to the effects drugs inflict on the body to find its homeostasis line, physical and behavioral changes take place providing both the euphoria people seek and the clues to the drug that was used. Over time the body adjusts the homeostatis line meaning that it requires more of the drug to get the same effect but the blood saturation amount stays the same.

The Drug Recognition Expert uses 12 components to determine if someone is under the influence and what they are under the influence of.

They are:
1)  Blood Alcohol Content Test
2)  Interview the Arresting Officer
3)  Preliminary Exam
4)  Eye Exam
5)  Divided Attention Psyhcophysical Test
6)  Vital Signs
7)  Dark Room Examinations
8)  Muscle Tone
9)  Injection Sites
10) Suspect Statements and Other Observations
11) Opinions of the Evaluator
12) Toxicology

All twelve steps only take about 45 minutes to the Drug Recognition Expert to complete.

Officer Hayes presentation kept the class engaged and interested. He answered questions, told stories to illustrate his point, and conversed with class easily.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Friends, Enemies, Breasts

As I see all the attention given to Breast Cancer Awareness because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I find myself squirming in my seat. I didn't understand my reaction at first. I really didn't. I'm all for encouraging women to take control of their health and to take better care of themselves.

Then it dawned on me... I keep wanting to scream  "Can we please, please, please have Breast Health Awareness Month?"

It's not that I don't understand the need to raise awareness about breast cancer and the devastation it can cause. I've seen it. I've had family members suffer from breast cancer. I've had scares of my own. I understand that early detection saves lives and that self-exams are important. It's not that I'm against any of that.

Let me reiterate, I am for self-exams and early detection. I am for finding a cure for breast cancer. Above all, I am for women having healthy breasts

But, here's the thing, too many women aren't taught to love their breasts, to cherish them, to revel in their uniqueness, their beauty. Instead we're taught to see them almost as enemies. We're taught to alternately flaunt them and hide them. We're taught to avoid showing cleavage because showing cleavage makes us look cheap or slutty or whatever. What we're never taught is the true beauty of cleavage when shown just right. We're taught that they're never perfect enough regardless of size: - large, small, or medium. We're taught to see our breasts as feeding apparatuses for babies, pleasure sources for men, or items for competition amoung ourselves.

Many of us are taught not to mention them because they're part of our private parts except they're not really very private. We're taught not to talk about them because that's equivalent to talking about sex. That is unless they're feeding apparatuses for babies, then not talking about them is discrimination  - unless we talk about them inappropriately. We whisper the word breasts when we talk about their health. Most of the time we avoid discussing breast cancer - well, that is unless it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, again, we whisper the words when we do discuss it. And we avoid discussing self-exams or the best ways to keep our breasts healthy even with our closest friends and spouses. Think about it for a minute. We've created a convaluted matrix around our breasts where there really is no need.

It took two cancer scares for me to learn to appreciate my breasts - to, dare I say it, love them. I'm not going into the details of my scares here because it isn't germain to my point. I will only say I'm lucky because both my scares turned out to be nothing but scares. I hesitate to call them cancer scares though the abnormalities detected certainly raised that fear in me between being told of the detection and having the diagnostic mammogram come back normal.

I've actually come to be grateful for those scares because they got my attention. They made me do some research. They made me think. They made me realize the importance of my breasts to me. They made me want to be healthier overall and design my life to live as healthy as I possibly can.

I finally learned to see and touch my breasts with love instead of annoyance or fear. I stopped caring if someone criticized me for showing a bit of cleavage or because my nipples showed through my blouse on a cold day. I even started buying bras to show off their best assets and give them comfortable and proper support. I finally stopped giving a damn if someone else didn't like their size or shape or whatever.
I finally took the time to really get to know my breasts. I became intimate with them. Now I know every nook and cranny of both my breasts. I don't just examine them once a month but often enough to know that most of the time, they feel and look exactly the same. Once in a while, they change slightly. Then return to normal. Hormones will do that. Those minor changes no longer scare me.

I've learned that whenever I feel soreness, it is likely the result of one of three things or a combination of them: poor dietary choices, an ill-fitting bra, or exercising without proper support. A return to a healthy diet corrects the first one easily. The ill-fitting bra gets immediately adjusted for a better fit or removed from rotation if the adjustment doesn't work. A more supportive exercise top/bra for my yoga routines corrects the support issue. I've learned to listen to my breasts the same way I listen to the rest of my body.

During my last scare, I wrote a poem, Friends, Enemies, Breasts, about my lifelong struggle to love and accept my breasts.When I wrote it, I swore I'd never let anyone read it. It was therapuetic, but as I came to terms with loving and accepting my breasts, I decided sharing it might do some good. You can read it in my upcoming poetry collection, Reflections in Silhouette.

When I realized how much better I feel about my breasts since I gave myself permission to become intimate with them and cherish them, I wanted to share the idea with other women. I searched for something from a medical professional to back up my theory. I found two articles I want to share with you. They are both on Dr. Christiane Northrup's website. Please, go read them. Maybe they'll change the way you care for your breasts. One is called Transforming the Breast Self-Exam and the other is Wonderful Self-Care for Breasts.

I love that Dr. Northrup's approach aligns with what I discovered on my own after my last scare. So, ladies, next time you do your self-exam, perhaps you can concentrate on simply knowing and appreciating your breasts. It might even make you more likely to perform your exams more consistently because you'll no longer be going into it fearing what you'll discover. It works for me. Maybe it will work for you, too.

This year I'm actually looking forward to my professional exam. I won't be holding my breath fearing my doctor is going to detect something I missed because I didn't know my own breasts well enough to recognize a change. I'm even looking forward to my mammogram. It's all part of loving and cherishing not only my breasts but my body. I would even go so far as to say it's part of loving and cherishing my life - my self.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Have No Right - Available for Your Reading Pleasure

I posted a new poem, I Have No Right, today. Please check it out! Also, look for it and poems like it in my upcoming poetry collection, Love in Silhouette (release date to be announced).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Albany Citizens Police Academy - Week 6 - Commmunity Resource Unit

This week the Albany Citizens Police Academy focused on the Community Resource Unit which includes Community Service Officers, Community Education Specialists, School Resources Officers, and Traffic Officers as well as the Bike Patrol Unit.

Jim Dohr explained the role of the Community Service Officer in the Albany Police Department. Community Service Officers work within the community addressing complaints that don't require a patrol officer's presence. They handle junk and trash complaints, abandoned vehicles, recreational vehicle storage/use, the radar trailer, found property, animal welfare/control, and traffic control such as at accident scenes. A large portion of their work seems to be directed toward investing animal neglect/abuse cases. Dohr's pride in helping animals find a better life was quite apparent as he talked. The pictures he showed us and the stories he told us of what people can do to their animals broke my heart. I struggled not to cry a couple of times.

As Dohr talked about the Shop with a Cop program, his face lit up. The program to pairs underprivileged children with police officers to go shopping in December with a set amount of money. Most of the children want to use the money to buy presents for someone else.

One thing is certain, the Community Service Officers in the Albany Police Department keep busy!
Community Education Specialist Carmen Westfall explained the role of the Community Education Specialist. She and the other Community Education Specialist focus on organizing events to education the community not only about what the department does but about the things citizens can do to be safer in their neighborhoods and homes.
The Albany Police Department had several education programs. The Child Safety Education Program puts officers in the elementary schools to teach students about safety and the role of the police officer. They arrange Public Safety Presentations for groups and organizations as well as Police Department Tours.

Other programs include S.A.L.T - Seniors and Law Enforcement Together, S.A.S.S.I.  - Safe and Secure Seniors Independent. Both programs are designed to address the concerns and needs of Senior Citizens. S.A.S.S.I. includes free home security inspections, education and resource referral.

Bicycle Safety Rodeo Program teaches children how to ride their bikes safely and provides helmets for children who need them. Safety Camp is a fun and interactive way for children to learn about safety and the role of law enforcement.

The Drug Take Back Program began with a single day that collected so many presription drugs that were either no longer needed or expired that the department figured out a way to make it permanent. An old mailbox was converted to a drop box that now sets in the lobby of the Albany Police Department for citizens to take their expired and no longer needed prescriptions and Over-the-Counter medications to drop off for proper disposal.

They also work with Neighborhood Watch Groups and Citizen Patrol groups including training of the groups. Citizen Patrol is trained to observe, record, and report not to take any action.

Patrol Observation and the Citizens Police Academy are both organized by the Community Education Specialists.

The Community Education Specialists work actively to keep the community educated and involved to help prevent crime and promote better relations between the department and the community. One such program being designed right now is the Incident Aftercare Program (I.A.P.) to address citizen concerns after a major incident in a neighborhood.

The School Resource Officers (SROs) spend their days in the schools  building a relationship between the officers and the students and educators. SROs investigate crimes that take place in the schools or on school grounds, serve as protectors of the schools, call for lockdowns of schools when necessary, provide student threat assessments, educate students and educators, and serve as a counselor. Their presence in schools has resulted in a decline in crime rates among juveniles. SROs serve a vital role in the community with their work in the schools.

Bicycle Patrol allows officers to interact more easily with the community as the officers are out in the open and are more approachable. Bicycle Patrol Officers are required to take thirty hours of specialized training in tactical use training of the bicycle. they learn to use the bicycle as a weapon, for crowd control, and mounting/dismounting effectively to not allow the bicycle to interfere with their job as well as ridingf both slow and fast, jumping curbs, negotiating stairs, transitioning from riding to running, and spinning. Bicycle Patrol provides an effective tool for criminal and traffic enforcement because the bicycle can go places cars can't and moves faster than someone on foot. It is also inexpensive and provides a workout for the officer. The bicycle does present challenges including custody and transport, only limited necessary equipment can be carried on the bike, bike doesn't provide cover like a car does, and timely arrival on calls can be impeded due to distances needed to ride. Bicycle Patrol serves a vital role in policing by having a presence in the community, investigating crimes, and promoting good citizen relations.

The Community Resource Department works to promote good community relations, teach crime prevention and safety techniques, and investigate crimes that fall under their purview.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Itch

I feel that itch again... The one that torments me... The one that divorces me from life... The one that swallows me whole and refuses to spit me out until I satisfy it... The one that makes me myriad promises of possibility...

Yes, that's right... I feel a new writing project starting to form in my mind. The problem? I still have projects in the works that need my attention right now. Projects I don't want to abandon. Projects that are important to me. So I asked my muse to wait patiently with the new idea. Now she's pouting in the recesses of my mind. I explained to her reasonably and rationally that I need to publish the books of poetry, edit my short stories into a book or possibly two, finish writing two short stories, finish the novel I'm writing, edit a manuscript yet again, and work on a nonfiction book that I'm planning. I promised if she helped me with those, then I would give her full reign to take me on a new adventure. And, yet she hides first in one recess of my mind and then another. I gave a little treat Wednesday and jotted down the rough draft of a couple new poems while I waited at the dentist's office. She became giddy but retreated back into her pout as soon as she realized I was still focused on my already-in-progress projects.

My muse just wants to play with the exciting new ideas and leave behind the ones she feels she's given enough energy. She likes exploring new things. I understand where she's coming from as this week has been filled with a lot of tedious tasks that require little new writing but are important nonetheless.

I remember recently saying fighting my muse was useless, so instead of fighitng her I'm trying to redirect her energy to help me finish the projects already in the works. I coerce by telling her that people want to read the poetry I've written but can't until I get the books published. She rolls her eyes and says "Just fnish it already." I try to explain to her that there's a process, that I have to do things right. Again, she just rolls her eyes and tells me to get on with the new stuff.

I've relented a little and told her she can daydream a little now and then preparing for the new project as long as she lets me work on the already-in-progress projects. I think we've come to an understanding. I've convinced myself that once Love in Silhouette is finished and reaching its audience, she'll see why it's important to let me finish my already-in-progress projects before we start another new one...

But then again, I feel that itch...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Albany Citizen's Police Academy - Week 5 - Search and Seizure and Traffic

This week's class was taught by Officer Robert Hayes. He taught both portions of the class. Hayes explained the rules that determine constitute a legal search. Probable cause is 51% more likely than not that the person committed an act. Reasonable suspicion is less than probable cause. An encounter is when an officer stops a citizen to make an inquiry without indicating the citizen isn't free to leave at any time. A stop is when the officer makes it clear the citizen is not free to leave. Officer Hayes explained that an officer must be able to articulate proof for any search or stop; however, an encounter doesn't require a report. If an officer can't articulate a reason for turning an encounter into a stop, the stop won't hold up in court. Hayes discussed the different types of legal searches including consent, warrants, and probable cause. An officer often searches an individual during a stop to insure the officers safety. A frisk is to look for weapons that could put the officer in harm.

Officer Hayes also discussed traffic laws in Oregon. He discussed the dangers of speeding and not obeying traffic devices. He explained how some of the traffic laws can be interpreted quite differently creating situations where the courts will dismiss cases based on the confusion.

At the end of the class, Officer Hayes took us out and let us use the lidar (laser radar) to see how it worked. That was cool. The car I set the lidar on was going 23mph in downtown Albany where I'm fairly certain the speed limit is 20mph. He also stepped out into the street to stop a passing car to tell them to turn on their headlights!

I went to this class expecting it to be dry and boring, but Officer Hayes is a good presenter. Anyone who can make traffic law interesting has to be a good speaker!!

Okay, it wasn't a K-9 demonstration or EVOC ride-a-longs, but it was still interesting!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Albany Citizen's Police Academy - Week 4 (Class 2) - Dogs and Driving

We began class Saturday with a tour of the Albany Police Department. We divided into two groups. I was in Community Education Specialist Westfall's group. She walked us through the halls where we saw a case of old equipments and badges, photos of former Albany Police Officers, several closed doors, the dispatch office where we met the dispatchers and heard a little about what they do. We also saw the report writing area and a wall filled with blankets and stuffed animals the officers carry in the car to sooth children at crime scenes. The tour also included a look outside at the storage shed where patrol bicycles are stored and a look across to the building where the detectives are housed.

Sergeant Drum showed us the interior of a police car. He explained that the back seats are hard plastic because arrestees have a tendency to opt to leave body fluids and waste back there. There's also a drain in the bottom, so the back seats can be hosed out. It's always amazing the depths to which people are willing to sink for vengence.

Everyone was antsy to get on with the K-9 presentation... Okay, maybe everyone wasn't, but I sure was.

K-9 Officers Ard and Kloss began with a classroom discussion about the history of police dogs. The use of police dogs grew out of the usefulness dogs showed in working with the military. Police departments began adapting those dogs talents to the needs of police departments. Police dogs, at least the ones in this area, come from Europe. The toy drive, aka the prey drive, is important in search dogs as it is the motivator for training. The dogs are expensive, but in the end save departments money. The purchase price can go as high as $10,000. Then training can cost several thosands of dollars. The dogs live with their handlers, but the department pays for their food, lodging, medical care, etc.

Officers Ard and Kloss are obviously very connected to their dogs, Joeri and Ruleon. They talked about how they assess situations and won't let the dogs go into situations that are too dangerous for the dog. Both expressed dislike of the bullet proof vests for dogs describing them as hot and likely to create problems such as getting snagged or getting in the dog's way. They passed around the vest. I was surprised at how heavy it was.

Both officers expressed appreciation for the dogs abilities to smell better, hear better, and find targets that otherwise would go unfound. Officer Ard also told a couple of stories to demonstrate how sometimes listening to search dogs is better than listening to human beings when trying to find someone. The dog doesn't get bogged down by what he assumes like humans tend to do. The dog reacts to what he smells, hears, sees.

Watching the dogs in action was really cool and interesting. As soon as they saw the training suits the officers wear, they expressed a desire to work yet both dogs listened for instructions from the handler before taking action. The dogs stood hunched down with hips wiggling ready to to as soon as the instruction was given. The officers demonstrated sending the dog after someone in a car and to find someone hidden in the bushes. The demonstrations were quick and efficient, but I wanted to see more. The dogs' pleasure at capturing the "bad guy" was reward enough at this point in their careers.

Immediately after working, both dogs were brought to socialize with the class. We petted them while discussing them and their work more. The dogs enjoy feeling useful and being worked.

I really loved watching the dogs in action and getting to pet them afterwards.

Officers Kloss and Ard handled the demonstration with ease, efficiency, and joy. They really seem to love their role as K-9 Officers!

After a thirty minute break for lunch, we gathered for an hour class on Emergency Vehicle Operation (EVO) before heading out to the Corvallis Municipal Airport. Sergeant Drum imparted a plethoria of wisdom about driving, crashes, and the operation of vehicles under myriad circumstances including night driving, going into slides, etc. The class progressed to talk about police pursuit techniques including the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT). Pursuit Intervention Technique orginated from auto racing when it was noted that racers would take out other cars to gain advantage by hit them lightly on the rear bumper sending them into a spin.

The presentation Sergeant Drum usually includes toy cars to demonstrate the slides, but he couldn't find the cars. Bummer!

Oh, well, I think most of us were more interested in getting to the abandoned airstrip at the Corvallis Municipal Airport and experiencing EVOC for ourselves!! Or maybe I just speak for myself.

They encouraged us to carpool with the officers headed to the Corvallis Municipal Airport. At first I planned to drive, so I could leave if I got bored. Now that it's over the very idea that I thought I might get bored makes me chuckle. I hopped in an unmarked car with Officer Robert Hayes and fellow student, Courtenay. The ride over was interesting. It was the first time I'd ever been in the back of a police car. The unmarked car has normal seats that are covered in plastic, so it wasn't the hard seats from the regular patrol cars.

It started raining on the drive over.

When we arrived at abandoned airstrip at the Corvallis Municipal Airport, Officer Hayes sped down the runway as did the other officers arriving. He took us through a series of tight turns and emergency lane changes. It was exhilarating!!

The officers set up a series of cones to create other driving conditions. The class took turns riding in the cars. Three to four students rode in each car in both the front and back seats while an officer drove. The officers drove a course using evasive maneuvers and pursuit maneuvers staying within the cones. They also sent the car into skids and slides demonstrating how to drive through them. Some of us took several turns in different cars. Riding in the front seat gave a completely different feel than riding in the front seat. When in the front seat, I could see where we were going and what the officer was doing. It was easier to know what was coming and in a sense to feel like I could prepare for it. It afforded a sense of control over an situation where there was no real control available for me. When I rode in the back seat of the patrol cars with the hard plastic seats, I was jostled around quite a bit. I ended up with a couple of bruises, but it was well worth it!

We moved into the two white cars outfitted with special bumpers to train officers to perform the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT). Again we took turns riding in the cars - 3-4 students at a time with an officer. The officers performed the PIT maneuever multiple times. Sergeant Drum talked to us as we began our ride in the PIT training cars. He explained that we were the bad guys being pursued. As he kept our attention on him, the first bumper hit came as a surprise just as I'm sure it would be for someone being pursued. After that, the hits were less of a surprise. The hits sent us into spins and turned us around until we were going backwards. The hits didn't always work as Seargeant Drum maneuvered the car. After we were the bad guys, we'd turn and then be the good guys initiating the PIT against the other car sending them into spin or turning them around. After the first or maybe the second hit, I blurted "I don't think I'm supposed to like this this much!" or something to that effect.

I can't believe I thought even for a minute that it might get boring. Okay, there was one downside; standing in a huddle under the temporary cover provided for us as the rain poured down between rides. I hate being cold and am not especially fond of being wet and cold, but it was worth it.

Overall, the EVOC was like riding a roller coaster. I laughed just like I do on roller coasters. I loved this portion of the class! Who knew I could enjoy speed and handing over control of... well anything that much!! I'd take this portion of the class again and again and again...