Unless you’ve hibernated for the winter like a bear, you know this is the weekend of the Big Game. Like most folks, Sunday evening I’ll be in front of the TV for the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t miss it. I was thinking about the amount of training and practice it takes to get there, and then I thought about what I learned last night at the Citizens’ Police Academy class about the officers in my hometown of Matthews. It’s not much different. Training is an ongoing theme with them.
New recruits to the department must complete certification in Basic Law Enforcement Training offered by many community colleges. This is a police academy that prepares an officer for entry-level employment. Under the state of North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission, they cover every subject related to their job, such as criminal investigations, emergency responses, alcohol beverage laws, custody and court procedures, ethics and community relations. There’s more, but you get the picture. Either to scare us or impress us, Sergeant Shaw and Officer Belin put on display some of the manuals that cover the instructions required of an officer. The binders stacked on the table were 3′ high with more on the floor. Yikes!
Applicants must complete 620 mandated hours, 32 blocks of instructions with testing, written comprehension test, and pass a physical. If hired by the Matthews Police Department, the new officer must go through the Field Training for 16 weeks. The first 5 weeks, the officer trains with a squad, and after 6 weeks, the officer rotates day/night shifts. Officers must file daily reports for review by a supervisor. Then, the supervisor must file a weekly report.
Sergeant Shaw of the Vice and Narcotics Division explained the firearms training. Matthews Police officers do qualification twice a year in different types of weaponry from handguns to assault weapons. In order to become a certified instructor, an officer must have a 94 or better score. In training exercises, officers use air assault guns, which Sgt. Shaw explained is a cost efficient tool at 25 cents a round, cheaper than other sim rounds.
So, when you think about the NFL quarterbacks on the practice field, running routes and throwing a football like it’s a projectile, think about our law enforcement officers. In my state of North Carolina, 16 credits of instruction is mandated every year. In my town of Matthews, 8 additional credits are required. This year, Chief Rob Hunter has chosen the following mandates for his officers: Fundamentals of Evidence Collection, Law Enforcement Intelligence Update, and Officer Safety: Responding to Crimes Off-Duty.
Training. Practice. Study. Whew! It makes me tired just thinking about it. I think I’ll just prop up my feet, munch on chips and dip, and watch the game. While I’m doing that, I can be assured there are police officers trained and equipped to keep me, my family, and my community safe. Super Bowl and super safe. Thanks to all our men and women in uniform for all they do!