Tag Archives: academy

Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy – Week 7

Week 7 covered gangs and crisis negotiation, and was the last class in the academy (the 8th week was a graduation ceremony). It was also 2 weeks ago, so this is a bit overdue. Unfortunately, no slides were handed out for either one of these topics, so I am running off memory.

Gangs are an issue in the Wyoming area. There are over 30 gangs currently active in the Wyoming area, ranging from east coast & west coast gangs, to local, independent gangs. Gangs are not tied to any one race or ethnicity, and in fact, some gangs will include members from another race in the local ‘branch’ of the gang, and then run into problems when members from larger cities arrive and aren’t used to a racially homogeneous group.

Wyoming has a crisis negotiation team, which was formed in 1992 (I think) after an incident involving a hostage situation, in which the police had to rely on a news reporter who could act as a translator (Bulgarian of all languages) to defuse the situation. The majority of the CNT’s calls however, are not hostage situations, but domestic issues or suicide threats. Contrary to what you see in movies, you will not get a chopper in 20 minutes if you demand it, and they will not trade another person for the release of a hostage. CNT works closely with TACT during an incident, and both provide input to the site commander, who eventually decides to keep negotiating, or to send in TACT.

Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy – Week 6

Week 6 covered the K-9 unit and TACT (SWAT) unit.

The K-9 unit currently has 4 dogs – Chico, Zeke, Arras, and Baron. All 4 are German Shepards, except for Arras, who is 1/2 Malinois. The dogs range in age from 3 to 5 1/2, and in price from $4500 to $9000. Dogs primarily come from European countries, since the bloodline of German Shepards in the US isn’t pure enough in most cases. The K-9 unit has been in service with Wyoming since 1989. In 2008, the unit was activated 193 times, primarily to track people or search for drugs.

TACT (Tactical Arrest & Confrontation Team) is Wyoming’s version of SWAT. It was established in 1974 to assist in serving high-risk arrest warrants, and dealing with hostage situations. Weapons vary by officer, currently offered are the M-4, the MP-5, and the Remington 700 rifle. They also have a wide variety of non-lethal options, such as rubber & bean bag rounds, tear gas, and the Taser.

TACT’s first armored vehicle was a re purposed Brinks security truck, purchased used for $10. The team currently uses a non-armored, customized deployment vehicle (customized by a Grand Rapids area RV garage). For more dangerous situations, a Bearcat is shared by all Kent County offices, and housed in the GRPD garage.

Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy – Week 5

Really, I didn’t forget about it. There was no session last week, and its been a bit hectic.

Week 5 covered the detective bureau’s operations and the technical support unit (CSI).

Wyoming PD has 8 general detectives, 1 dedicated to auto theft, 5 total for the metro area fraud team (Wyoming, GR, Kentwood, and Kent County departments), and several sergeants and a lieutenant overseeing the department. The detectives review all incident reports from the patrol division, and determine if someone should be assigned to the case, or if it should just be filed away. Not all cases are assigned to a detective, usually due to a lack of evidence, but they are all kept in the system in case something tied to a case (ie, a serial number) does turn up.

Detectives also process and obtain all arrest and search warrants. They work closely with the prosecutor’s office to prepare for any upcoming trials, and have the resources in-house to prepare other officers for courtroom testimony.

Pawn shops and second-hand stores also feed any sale information to the detective bureau. By looking at patterns in sales of items to pawn shops, they can attempt to track down possible stolen merchandise.

The Technical Support Unit consists of one sworn sergeant, 4 full time civilian technicians, and 1 part time print examiner. While they can’t quite do what you see on CSI, they still have a lot of tools at their disposal for retrieving evidence at a crime scene.

One of the most common things to look for at a scene is a fingerprint. Unfortunately, unless the conditions are exactly right (hard, clean surface & right amount of skin oils), they usually can only pull a partial print with traditional techniques. With the use of a forensic light source (such as a Polilight), they can find latent prints which may be of higher quality. Many prints these days are taken with a combination of the FLS and digital photography. Prints aren’t just restricted to fingers anymore. Kent County departments have begun collecting full palm prints, as they are still unique, and provide a larger surface area to find a match.

The TSU also handles shooting scene reconstruction and blood spatter analysis. I won’t pretend to know the details of some of the math they posted (I don’t know much trig, sorry). Suffice to say, several of the example slides they presented graphically demonstrated how various blood spatters can be cross-referenced with each other to come to a likely point of impact.

This coming week will cover the K-9 unit and TACT team.

Wyoming Police Citizens Academy – Week 4

Week 4 of the Citizens Academy covered community services and police training.

WPD is involved in a number of programs in the community. There are several national programs, such as the National Night Out, and the Neighborhood Watch. There are also programs such as the Metro High School Police Academy (a 50 hour condensed version of the 800 hour MCOLES program), the Citizens Academy, and the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program.

The police currently have 2 school liaison officers, down from 5 when the program started. In addition to this, once a month a check is made of each school in the Wyoming School District. Feedback from this program has been mostly positive, both from school administration and students.

The RSVP program is made of up 33 volunteers who handle minor calls such as pickups for abandoned property, fire & handicapped parking violations, and vacation home checkups. The average age of this group is in the mid-70s.

The community involvement portion also covered some grant information for the department. Grant money averages about $1 million per year, or approximately 10% of the budget. Depending on the grant, this may go to salaries, equipment, training, or some other area of the budget the grant specifies.

To become an officer in the WPD, you must pass an MCOLES (Michigan Commission On Law Enforcement Standards) certification test, and obtain employment within 2 years of that certification. There is also an extensive background investigation, going back to your high school days.

After passing the written & oral tests and background investigation, there is an 18-20 week field training program before the officer is sent out on their own. Wyoming PD also has specialized instructors in the areas of chemical & speciality munitions, precision driving, and domestic violence response, and a number of other specialties. On average, officers & detectives receive 86 hours of training a year, while accident reconstruction, K-9, and TACT officers receive 175-323 hours a year.

Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy – Week 3

Week 3 of the academy covered information services & communications.
Wyoming Police responded to over 42,800 calls in 2008. Each of these calls ends up having a report, and information services is the department that handles storing, indexing, and retrieving these documents. Like most document indexing systems, everything has a key field it is tied to. In the WPD’s case, it is the report number. All reports entered into the system are stored electronically, but they do still have reports on microfilm from the 1960s.
Information services also handles all Freedom of Information Act requests, bike licensing, and gun registrations. They also are responsible for billing & collection of OWI and false alarm charges. Michigan law allows police departments to bill for the officer’s time if you are pulled over for driving impaired, which in 2007 was over $57,000. Of that, only $21,000 has been collected. If you find yourself in jail, you’ll be billed for that also, at approximately $38 per day.
The 2nd part of the class covered communication and dispatch, and was unfortunately cut short before anything regarding fire dispatch was covered. Wyoming serves as the public safety answering point (PSAP) for Wyoming and Grandville police, fire, and medical emergency calls. When a call comes in to 911, it first is routed through 2 GR area AT&T central offices, then to the AT&T Detroit CO, and finally to their Boulder, CO office, where it picks up both ANI (phone number) and ALI (location) information for the call. All of this is done before the first ring, which is why there is sometimes a couple seconds of silence before the 911 operator answers. If you call 911 on your cell, you will be routed to the Rockford state police, and only cell phone triangulation will be available for your call.
When officers ‘run your plate’, they are most likely having dispatch look it up in the law enforcement information network (LEIN) computer. Depending on the search they run, it can return basic information such as vehicle registration and outstanding warrants, or more detailed information such as the last time you used your credit card somewhere. This information is then radioed back to the officer, and also transmitted electronically to their in-car computer.
All dispatching is done via computer aided dispatching. The head dispatcher for the shift runs on a PC with 4 monitors, and the LEIN operator also runs 4 monitors, with a 5 monitor dedicated to LEIN inquiries. Most other dispatchers on the shift have dual monitors.

Week 3 of the academy covered information services & communications.

Wyoming Police responded to over 42,800 calls in 2008. Each of these calls ends up having a report, and information services is the department that handles storing, indexing, and retrieving these documents. Like most document indexing systems, everything has a key field it is tied to. In the WPD’s case, it is the report number. All reports entered into the system are stored electronically, but they do still have reports on microfilm from the 1960s.

Information services also handles all Freedom of Information Act requests, bike licensing, and gun registrations. They also are responsible for billing & collection of OWI and false alarm charges. Michigan law allows police departments to bill for the officer’s time if you are pulled over for driving impaired, which in 2007 was over $57,000. Of that, only $21,000 has been collected. If you find yourself in jail, you’ll be billed for that also, at approximately $38 per day.

The 2nd part of the class covered communication and dispatch, and was unfortunately cut short before anything regarding fire dispatch was covered. Wyoming serves as the public safety answering point (PSAP) for Wyoming and Grandville police, fire, and medical emergency calls. When a call comes in to 911, it first is routed through 2 GR area AT&T central offices, then to the AT&T Detroit CO, and finally to their Boulder, CO office, where it picks up both ANI (phone number) and ALI (location) information for the call. All of this is done before the first ring, which is why there is sometimes a couple seconds of silence before the 911 operator answers. If you call 911 on your cell, you will be routed to the Rockford state police, and only cell phone triangulation will be available for your call.

When officers ‘run your plate’, they are most likely having dispatch look it up in the law enforcement information network (LEIN) computer. Depending on the search they run, it can return basic information such as vehicle registration and outstanding warrants, or more detailed information such as the last time you used your credit card somewhere. This information is then radioed back to the officer, and also transmitted electronically to their in-car computer.

All dispatching is done via computer aided dispatching. The head dispatcher for the shift runs on a PC with 4 monitors, and the LEIN operator also runs 4 monitors, with a 5 monitor dedicated to LEIN inquiries. Most other dispatchers on the shift have dual monitors.

Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy – Week 1

I signed up to be part of the 19th Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy, an 8 week outreach and community involvement class offered by the WPD. The offer came in with the quarterly water bill, and I thought it would be a good way to start being involved around Wyoming.

Week 1 covered introductions and an overview of the department. The class has 30 people in it, from all areas of Wyoming. Ages range from 18 to late 60s. After introductions, there was a tour of the building. The department moved into the new building in early 2000, just down the road from the old HQ and city offices. In addition to Wyoming, 911 dispatch for the city of Grandville is housed in the building. In addition to normal offices you’d expect, the building has several short-term holding cells (very spartan and very echoy), and a simulator room for weapons exercises.

Wyoming PD includes a K9 unit and a tactical (SWAT-style) unit. There are 88 sworn officers and 30 civilian personnel. As of 2007, the entry-level salary for an officer was $48,235, with time-and-a-half OT.

Wyoming Police Citizen’s Academy – Week 2

Week 2 of the Citizen’s Academy covered patrols and traffic enforcement.

Considering the size of Wyoming, there are usually only 6 or 7 cars on patrol per shift.  WPD is somewhat below the national average for officers per 1000 citizens, and that number will only continue to get worse with the retirement of the Deputy Chief, whose position will not be filled. The expansion of the city west towards the Metro Health area has placed additional strain on the coverage, since less than 10 years ago, most of that was all farmland, and now its a high traffic zone with the hospital and M6. Wyoming officers will not unlock your car if you lock your keys inside, unless there is a child locked in the car.  They explained that because of the increasing complexity of the insides of car doors, and the fact that they had some ‘unsatisfied customers’, its become too large of a liability issue, and they will refer you to a tow company.

MPO Dave Thompson is head of traffic enforcement, and did an excellent job explaining the most common issues he would run into on patrol. He assured the class that there is no ‘monthly quota’ for tickets, since generating a revenue stream from tickets is illegal, and they have no problems as it is writing 20 tickets an hour with 12-15mph-over today. Of every ticket, no matter the infraction, $49 immediately goes to Lansing, whatever is left over comes back to the city.

Current patrol cars are the standard Crown Vics, but they are transitioning to Chargers, as Ford would not commit to continuing a police package for the CV (and as one officer put it – Chargers ‘go like crazy’). Loadout for a car is a satchel containing tools & safety supplies, interior roof mounted shotgun (loaded with slugs, buckshot in car), M4 rifle in the trunk, and computer & radio equipment. In addition to a .40 cal sidearm and pepper spray, officers carry a Taser. Seeing one up close, they are a lot smaller than I was expecting. The barbs do not look at all pleasant to be hit with (like fishhook barbs, but larger).

I am looking forward to week 3. (I’ll put together a writeup for week 1 later, it was mostly introductions)