Police officers offer in depth look at their daily lives
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
"This is for real, this is not kidding around and you pull a car over and you have no concept or idea of what could potentially happen," said Citizens Academy student Rusty Clark.
Clark is one of 24 students in the Sioux City Police Department's Citizens Academy who had the opportunity to see things through the eyes of an officer.
And for 12 weeks he found out law enforcement can be very fulling, but also difficult.
"They go back out into the community and they're advocates for us," said Lieutenant McCann of the Sioux City Police Department. "And when things go on in the community and people look at different things and say 'oh my gosh what happened?' we have people that say no, we know how the police train, we know what their policies are."
Citizens Academy training isn't just bookwork.
Students participate in a number of operations, from blood alcohol testing, to prostitution stings, to being tased, and even learning how to protect themselves during moments of self-defense.
Those are just to name a few.
There is also K-9 search training, to see how police dogs can attack.
Ryan Fraley had an intense experience with the activity.
"I was attacked from behind and he got me in the arm and I think he was on to me for a good minute two minutes," said Fraley, of Sioux City.
Students also learned what it's like to be behind the wheel of a squad car.
Obstacle courses required them to have quick thinking, reaction and response time.
"It takes talent," said Tiffany Leckband, a Citizens Academy student. "I heard one of the officers tell us that you know, don't swerve at the cone until it's in between the two doors and then that way you'll never hit it."
KTIV's Station Manager Bridget Breen, one of the students, says it wasn't just about speed.
"When I first got into it, the officer and he took off, I was like 'Whoa' where are we going here?' Because I mean I would never drive that fast," said Breen. "I would never want to do that. And the reality was, he wasn't really going that fast. He was maneuvering the car in a way to show a real life example. And that just took my breath away."
And there was also handgun training. Learning to use one was just one step.Students also had to make difficult decisions.They had to act quickly and respond to different scenarios.For example, did they know if they were shooting a potential threat or bystander?
"I didn't even have time to hardly to think," said Britteny Schindler of Sioux City. "My heart was racing so fast. And I was really concentrated on having a loaded weapon, because I'm not used to having a loaded weapon."
Those tough decisions are just a few examples of what police officers have to make.
On the last night, students learned about the SWAT team, from how they deal with hostage situations, to their heavy armor, to their specialized training to work as a team.
Students got the chance to participate in a SWAT team exercise, entering an abandoned building.
"We went throughout each room in here and then up the stairs also and looking for whoever the intruder or intruders may have been in the building," said student Tom Keane.
While students like Keane have an experience they will never forget, it's only a snippet of the sacrifices officers make to keep the rest of us safe. And that became more of a reality through the Citizens Academy.