Letter to the editor

I went along on a ride along with an officer of the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department on a night in April. The first call we went on was a case of stolen keys. Someone broke out a window of a truck. The second instance we had was a belligerent person call. The officer did a very good job by diffusing a testy situation. This encounter took almost an hour. The third instance was a prowler call. This took two officers to check out around the house and some outbuildings. The fourth instance was to investigate a report of a downed tree on one of the most back roads in the county. This hazard was not as dire as thought. The fifth call came after we got a bite to eat and it was to transport someone to another county and found out this person was wanted. So the officer took care of that. He caught three different vehicles speeding on the interstate. One person had no insurance and was speeding excessively. That resulted in two tickets and a tow. One other received a ticket and was released. The third was somewhat minor and this driver was given a warning and was sent on their way. And all this happened to one officer on a Thursday night.

The way this whole thing started was I applied to and was accepted in the Citizen's Police Academy. This is a ten-week course that puts you in the perspective of a Catoosa County officer. You meet one day each week for three hours a day. It doesn't cost anything and I will guarantee that you won't look at a cop in the same way as you did before.

You get to see how the jail operates, why the procedures are as they are, the variety of problems they face each and every day. You learn how the 911 Center operates. You get to participate in a life-size simulator and check out the equipment they use. You get to tour the courthouse and the 911 Center. You can fire weapons on the range.

Not all cops are monsters, and no one likes to see those blue lights in the rear view mirror. In this course you see a different side of them, some of the compassion they show, and learn just how vital they are. Without them our community would be a very different place. Ordinary citizens don't normally see some of the bad people and things that are in our community. It seems that we don't see the positive side, but most likely the negative side if a bad cop pops up or a good cop makes a mistake. They have a lot going on, and some parts of their job are dangerous and unpleasant.

This course covers school resource officers and the challenges they face, and how the juvenile system works. You get to learn how to safely handle and fire some of the weapons the department uses. Basic law and using common sense in various situations are taught. You learn how crime scenes are processed, and how to preserve evidence. You learn what CERT is (Community Emergency Response Team), and how it works in a disaster. You learn a little about the fire department. This is only part of the course, there's much more. This is an interesting and satisfying program, and I urge anyone living in Catoosa County to take this course. You won't be disappointed.

Contact: Catoosa County Sheriffs Department, Captain Shane Fann (706)935-2424

James Fry