(UT) Academy Exposes Reality


April 29, 2003, 04:57 PM
Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

April 28, 2003, Monday

SECTION: Final; Pg. D1

LENGTH: 546 words

HEADLINE: Academy Exposes Reality

BYLINE: Robert Kirby

As if the world isn't screwed up enough already, Larry Erdmann and I decided to go to the police academy.

Not the real police academy, mind you. The only one that would even consider accepting the Hardly Boys as cadets was the Utah Highway Patrol Citizens Academy.

About two dozen citizens meet at Peace Officer Standards and Training every Thursday evening to learn what UHP troopers do besides giving me tickets. The class is a mixed bunch of social workers, bureaucrats, college kids, police buffs, business suits, news mutts and even two Republican state legislators.

During the first drive up from Utah County, Larry and I discussed opening our own private detective agency after graduation. The idea lost its charm when the first class revealed that a certain amount of smarts were required.

We study traffic safety, crime scene investigation, firearms, communications, self-defense and patrol operations. If we do well the instructors semi-promise us a prom when we graduate.

The UHP Citizens Academy differs slightly from the real thing. The official version is all day for 17 weeks and requires paying attention in class and running well beyond the point of barfing.

Our instructors come from a variety of law enforcement assignments, but all intent on teaching us that police work is considerably more complicated and dangerous than Hollywood pretends.

Last week was defensive training. Class began with the shocking video of a Georgia police officer being murdered. Properly sobered we got into the intricacies of taking violent suspects into custody.

Unlike the big screen versions, real cops generally shrink from arresting even felony suspects by beating them with furniture.

So, we bumbled and groaned our way through handcuffing techniques so complicated that I defy any contortionist with six elbows to get them right the first 50 times.

I wanted to practice arresting the two Republicans but there was a line for them, so I got stuck hooking and booking Larry.

Just when we thought we knew enough, the instructors introduced us to the Firearms Training Simulator, or FATS. In a dim room we faced assailants in computer-monitored scenarios to see if we could make life and death decisions in under a second.

Where the instructors failed, FATS succeeded in convincing most of us that short of divine intervention, we are not police material.

Poor, trusting Larry set a new academy record by getting killed 155 times, not counting the incidents when he accidentally shot himself, something the simulator technician swears should have been impossible.

Having once been a cop, I started out with a slight advantage that was promptly lost when I remembered the Georgia deputy. I blasted away at everything including potential witnesses, pets, cars, houseplants and Larry.

Highly concerned instructors have since informed me that police work has changed a lot in 15 years, something that needed remembering unless I wanted to finish the rest of the course in restraints.

Fine. We move on to safer stuff in the weeks ahead. Emergency vehicle operation should be interesting.

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4v50 Gary
April 29, 2003, 05:11 PM
EVOC? Last time I took EVOC it was on a simulator and you're engineered for failure. Stopped at a stop sign and waiting for a semi to turn the corner before I go and he clips me! Another fellow had a bicyclist collide into his car. During one pursuit virtually everyone got nailed by a car that made an illegal u-turn after the suspect vehicle past by it.

BTW, the DT (defensive tactics) instructors wound us up all week and warned us about hanging over the railing and barfing out breakfast or lunch because of EVOC. All of the recruits and most veteran officers did they warned. They were pulling our chain and it's almost as fun as the police Nintendo (FATS). During the FATS, went through three scenarios and had one commit suicide (opps, too late), killed one & in another captured a 211 (w/pepper spray).

Thankfully there was no virtual court with a virtual lawsuit and virtual homelessness that followed after all those virtual accidents in the car. No neck or back ache either.

Standing Wolf
April 29, 2003, 05:55 PM
I wanted to practice arresting the two Republicans but there was a line for them, so I got stuck hooking and booking Larry.

That's the point at which I stopped skimming.

April 29, 2003, 08:24 PM
At least he and Larry are smart enough to know they're to stupid to be detectives.:rolleyes:

Phil Ca
April 30, 2003, 03:14 AM
When the FATS simulator first came out our govdotorg agemcy got some of the 16 mm films to use for training. I used them on our indoor range with pretty good results. I showewd the film on a paper screen and after firing we stopped the film to show where the hit or miss went. (freeze frame)

We got word that a local PD in San Mateo County on the SF Peninsula was going to feature a FATS training device and everyne was invited to come and see it. After the wonderful device was shown and demonstrated the chief and the FASTS guy invited members of the LEO community to try it out. After several of the local LEOs tried it out I voluntered to take a turn and I maxed the course. The FATS guy was quite impressed until I told him I knew every building in the training fils since it was filmed at FLETC in Glynco,Georgia. (Federal Law Enforcement training Center) The only scene where I was a bit stymied was the scene in downtown Glynco in an area i did not recognize. The on base video was shot at the convenience store,warehouse,bank,housing area and the post office as well as a couple I do not remember.

The FATS system was a real good trainng device in those days and I only wish our agency would have sprung for one.

4v50 Gary
April 30, 2003, 11:36 AM
Phil, you ever see that "no-win" one filmed in L.A.? You driving beneath some sort of overpass in pursuit of a car filled with gang bangers. They stop and you get into a shootout. Behind virtually every pillar is a gang-banger. Now you're fighting an army, not just one carload of thugs.

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