The men and women in law enforcement professions are the people that are brave, strong mentally and physically, and have the desire to help. It’s a selfless, thankless career. The jobs are demanding, and these people are everything from a mentor, hero, to the most hated person within a mile radius. I was able to spend the afternoon with officer Landry at the Vernon department, and also FBI agent Dan Curtain from New Haven. They gave me excellent information and advice. I also got to go on a ride along with officer Landry and gained a lot of knowledge on what an afternoon is like for a police officer.
The hiring process is very long and will have any applicant very nervous. The qualifications to apply are to be a high school graduate, some departments require a college degree or similar experience, have a clean record, be in shape, good credit, 21 years of age or older. After applying you would receive an acceptance letter from the department and they would invite you to test with them, that’s if they’re interested in you. Before testing, people need to pass a physical test first and receive their CHIP card, which after passing physical standards the CHIP card is good to last 6 months.
When it expires you’d have to test again. You would need to pass those physical standards in order to proceed with the hiring process. Then comes the written exam, which tests your knowledge based on a high school level education. There is also parts of the test that test your memory. They’ll show you a picture for a few seconds then ask you things like what time it was on the clock, or how many people were in line. Police departments tend to only accept people who score 90% or higher on the written test. If you get a low score, you don’t advance to get hired. After moving on from the written test, you would take a oral board.
This is probably the scariest part, having to sit with high ranking officers and have them slam you with questions and scenarios. All while they dissect every word and action of yours. It’s very intimidating. Then if they like you during that interview, you’ll be invited to move on in the hiring process with taking a polygraph test. From there they’ll do a background test and drug test. If everything is passed then you’ll be hired. when I arrived at the Vernon police department for my ride along I had to wait for officer Landry to show up since she was on a call. While waiting in the waiting room I was able to take a look around.
I thought it was weird to have to talk through a phone to speak to dispatch on the other side of the wall. There was a few chairs for people waiting, a huge American flag to the side, and a case that had a few old trinkets. There was handcuffs from years ago, an old baton, and an old writing from the 1920’s written by the chief, it was so fine-flowing, magnetic writing with confident loops, nobody writes like that anymore. A group of four pictures hung on the wall with the departments officers in uniform from the 20’s-50’s, it clearly showed how much the uniforms have changed.
The room was very clean and easily maintained. Officer Landry walked in and shook my hand, briefed me on what we’d be doing then she led me into the back. Officer Landry introduced me to a few officers, all of which were very nice. She led me into the room where they do dispatch and watch the cameras. There was at least 5 computer screens that showed camera views, who is on what call, where they are, and a few other specs. It was really entertaining. They showed me how the GPS updates roughly every 10 seconds and will show you where the officer is.
From there we took an elevator and went downstairs where officer Landry then showed me where they take fingerprints and they’re sent to the FBI. They had two machines, one old and one being newer. Next to that was a wooden bench that looked like it has been around longer than i have. It had a wooden loop on the top left side of it, my guess is to restrain people. Before continuing she had to lock up her gun to enter the next room, next to that lock box was a firearms cleaning station. officer Landry lead me down a hallway and showed me the offices where the higher ranked officers work.
I saw the office of the sgt who I spoke with to arrange my ride along. Next door to his office was a dingy cell. I was able to see how small they are, with no privacy, including the toilet that was behind a (maybe) three foot tall wall. I would not want to use that toilet! Officer Landry told me that they sometimes have people try to commit suicide in the cells. People will try to jump of that three foot wall and hit their head on concrete, in hopes to succeed. I was then lead back to a room that they call roll-call. In this room is where officers are briefed at the beginning of every shift about what has happened since their last shift.
This way, they’re prepared to handle any scenarios that might relate to a previous day. In this room is where they also write their reports on the computers, bring case evidence, and even eat their lunch. Officer Landry told me she had to write a report from yesterday so she told me I could have a seat and she’d answer some questions of mine in the process. We discussed a lot about being a female in a male dominated profession. I asked her how her job has been affected by this and she told me “The only way I’ve noticed is, for example, men forget that we can handle our own.
I responded to a call once with my partner and we were standing inside a hallway about to go through a doorway, armed, and it was dangerous. I was first. So I opened the door and immediately we noticed people there so he pushed me to the side so I couldn’t go in before him and he went charging into the room. I brought it to his attention after and he said he didn’t even realize he did that. It wasn’t intentional, but I think that in dangerous situations a good man will completely forget that we’ve had the same training, we’re just as capable, and step in to protect us. She then told me how women have more success at diluting a dangerous, heavy situation. Women tend to be better at reasoning and getting people to calm down, or to open up. Officer Landry said “Don’t get me wrong, there’s some guys who are very good at talking to people! But women as a whole tend to just be better at it. I think that’s why departments actually love hiring female officers because they tend to be less violent and more reasonable. But here, here we have about 6 female officers out of about 50 total. Not many women want to be in law enforcement.
And if you do, if you apply, they’re going to know you really want to do this. ” We walked out of the roll-call room into a garage. She showed me how they sign out a taser and have to test it before taking it out (and it was very loud). We walked up to a nice Charger police car and she opened the doors and began pulling things out. She took out a few items and explained the purpose of them, like a fire extinguisher, first aide, and a giant black shield-like item and told me if shots were to get fired we would cover ourselves with that. Then pulled out a rifle and nonchalantly noted “this is a rifle”.
Granted, I’ve used firearms and the first gun I ever shot was an AK47, but there’s always a little choke you get in your throat when seeing a gun so powerful. Then we got into the car and she showed me how the computer works. How you would see who, where, what they’re doing, what call they’re responding to, and how the database works with searching for a license or persons name. It was very neat. We pulled out of the department and began driving down towards the Rockville area. She showed me her favorite spots to park for when she’s looking to pull people over.
Did you know there’s about three seconds from the time a stop light goes from yellow to red? I never have really bothered to notice that until she told me. Officer Landry pointed out that it’s up to the officers discretion on what “running a red light” is. She will pull someone over only if their car isn’t passed the pedestrian walkway by the time the light turns red. But other officers might react differently. When we were about five minutes into our ride along two dogs ran out in front of our car, on a busy street, we almost hit them (I would have been a wreck if we did).
Then the owner of the dogs came running out and got ahold of them. Officer Landry asked if he needed help, he said no, so we moved on. We got a burglary call, so we quickly responded to that. Upon pulling into the parking lot of this building we were looking for another officer who also responded. We couldn’t find him around the building for a few minutes because he was so sneaky! The officers checked out the building, perimeter, and nothing seemed to be strange, broken, or stolen so they deemed it as a false alarm. Officer Landry then had to do a follow up on an incident that happened the day before.
We arrived at a house and she was speaking outside with this woman who witnessed this incident of her neighbor cursing and being belligerent to officer Landry. She asked the women to give a statement. But all she would say is “I don’t remember”. (“I don’t remember” typically means the person is lying. But “I didn’t see/hear” means they really didn’t see or hear. The woman just didn’t want to abruptly say she didn’t want to be involved and “I don’t remember” was her way of backing out. ) Officer Landry was frustrated because the woman simply had wasted her time.
Officer Landry was telling me how the job isn’t all action and craziness, officers spend most of their time doing paperwork. She told me they will do what they can on the computers in the car, so that way they can keep up. So when people see an officer parked on the side of the road and it looks like they might not be doing much. They’re probably doing paperwork and writing reports on what happened the day before. She had to write four reports just within the 3 hours we were in the car. That might not seem like a lot, but those reports have to be very detailed.