Thursday, October 3, 2013
Those attending the Goose Creek Police Department’s citizens police academy on Sept. 17 learned of some of the most visible public work officers do – patrolling the streets.
“I could talk about the patrol division a full day and probably still not cover everything we do,” GCPD Lt. Tom Hill said.
Hill oversees the patrol division. “One of my teams is on the road every single day of the year,” he said.
GCPD has 46 patrol officers. They work in 10-hour shifts with three-hour overlaps during night shift, usually the busiest time. There are a minimum of five officers on the road at all times. They average 15 service calls a day.
“They have an hour or two to complete their reports,” Hill said. “I have had a night when we had 22 reports in one night. I had to approve all of them.
“Our patrol cars are high-tech compared to some departments. We can send non-emergency dispatch calls on the computer.”
According to Hill, officers can scan a driver’s license and registration to a computer so a citation can be filled out quickly. “We can give you a citation in five minutes,” he said. “Handwriting a citation takes 20 minutes.”
There is an average of one and a half radars per patrol team. Each traffic patrol car has mounted front and rear radar.
“We have a digital camera inside the car,” he said. “Most of the time we’re going to be recording 30 seconds before the lights are on.”
Hill said officers bring video to court with evidence such as offenders running stop signs. As soon as officers pull into the GCPD parking lot their dashboard videos download automatically. Nothing is touched.
“High crime areas are more heavily patrolled,” Hill said. “If you put an officer where crimes are happening, the criminal is going to go to jail. You put enough police officers in an area, people are going to stop doing stupid stuff.
“The bike patrol has been fantastic for us. They will go out there and write traffic tickets on a bicycle.”
Academy attendees also saw a video of what happens when a stop goes wrong.
Crime Prevention Specialist Kevin Scott said officer safety videos are shown for the betterment of future officers.
GCPD Capt. David Aarons said officers have no idea what they are dealing with when they arrive on a call.
To demonstrate, GCPD SRO David Coffey had been quietly sitting in on the class. He was dressed in jeans and a black golf polo shirt.
He walked to the front of the room and seemed to pull out an endless stream of weapons hidden on him, placing them on a table. He was carrying 11 knives and four handguns in his pockets and strapped to hidden holsters.
“We don’t know if someone is leaving North Charleston and just shot somebody there when we pull them over,” Aarons said.
Officers who die in the line of duty have an average of 12 years of experience, Aarons said. The average age is 38. There were 72 officers killed in 2011 in the United States. Of those, 69 were males and three were females. There were 54,774 assaults on officers across the country in 2011.
Aarons said GCPD officers use the martial arts technique called Krav Maga for self-defense. “If you’re proficient with the stuff, you’re going to survive,” he said.
There are four levels of resistance: psychological (intimidating, staring), verbal non-compliance (cursing), passive resistance (protestors) and active resistance (attacking).
“We want voluntary compliance,” Aarons said. “When they charge at you with a deadly weapon, that’s deadly force. If you start attacking me, it can warrant deadly force. I take all my weapons to the fight.”