Summerville Citizens Police Academy
Class 6 - part 2
It is a Saturday - one of the two Saturdays scheduled for an all-day class - and we have returned from lunch break after a morning of ESU indoctrination.
We walk into the training room and find 13 young faces smiling at us.
They are part of SPD’s Cadet force.
A family affair, the cadets are taught by Lt. James Bateman and his wife, DeeDee Bateman, cadet advisor.
James has 22 years with SPD and he and DeeDee began the cadet program 22 years ago.
The program’s goals are a positive interactive relationship between law enforcement and the public, an introduction to real law enforcement that will help these young people make an informed decision about entering the field. It is open to 14- to 20-year-olds who are interested in a career in law enforcement. Part of the Boy Scouts of America the SPD cadets meet every Saturday to learn skills, practice scenarios and raise money. They fundraise not only for their own program but split whatever they raise with other charities such as Palmetto House, the Distressed Officers Fund and Dorchester Children’s Center. They partner with the local Elks Lodge.
The cadets earn ranks, just like real law enforcement, and they operate as a mini-department.
They each have a duty belt that includes handcuffs, pepper spray (water with mint), a rubber Taser-replica and a rubber Glock. They use real radio/walkie-talkies with their own channel (frequency).
Most go into law enforcement.
Today’s group of cadets includes Summerville High School students JJ James, 16; Cynthia Curry, 17; Kristen Draheim, 17; Angel Robish, 16; Terell Richardson, 15; Drew Sincoff, 15; and Dailyn Filipiak, 15. Ashley Ridge graduate Bryant Lowe, 19; Berkeley High student Kara Pockrus, 17; Cane Bay student Aron Matthews, 15; and Summerville High graduates Austin Mccain, 20; J.R. Holder, 19; and Jeremy Garrett, 18. We also meet the Batemans’ son, Michael, a former cadet and newly minted SPD officer.
The cadets take us outside and put on two arrest scenarios - one high risk and the other a normal traffic stop.
The first scenario - the high risk one - has the backstory of an armed robbery. Two police cars and four cadets have a vehicle stopped. There appears to be two occupants but they are trained not to assume. There could be more hidden in the backseat or trunk.
Using their vehicles as protection, the cadets, with their weapons drawn, follow precise procedure to get first one, then the other occupant out of the car. They remove the subjects’ weapons, pat them down and handcuff them, while the other three provide cover.
They look exactly like a television drama but the Batemans are watching this scenario with eagle eyes noting any mistakes that might be life threatening.
The second scenario is a simple traffic stop that goes off without a hitch.
The cadets get a round of applause from us and go off to finish their Saturday class with the Batemans.
A new officer is introduced to us. He is PFC Hobbie Williams. This SPD officer rides with a partner K-9 Officer Vox.
Vox is Czechoslovakian and speaks Czech. Williams not so much. But the two communicate well and Vox is all work until he gets his well-done reward, a bright red Kong toy and then he is completely focused on his toy and ecstatic.
Vox is trained for tracking, drugs, finding articles and bite work. Bite work is apprehension.
Williams and Vox are both certified which is required by SPD even though the state only requires training.
Williams gives us a brief introduction to K-9 policing and then brings his partner out. His, partner, he tells us, is always talking. “He’s very vocal, never stops barking,” Williams chuckles.
Because Vox is an Alpha dog, Williams keeps him separate from us.
The cadets have put something out in a field next to the fire station. Two of the cadets go stand near the street to stop traffic if necessary. When a dog searches, explains Williams, it does so in ever widening circles with its nose to the ground. It pays no attention to traffic.
He instructs Vox to find the article. Vox takes off, nose to the ground, and within a minute has found it. His reward is his red Kong. He settles on the ground chewing away.
Williams then takes the toy away and instructs Vox, once again, to find an article (this time it is keys he has tossed) and Vox once again begins to search. This search, however, is momentarily derailed by the entrance of a squirrel. A quick order from Williams and Vox is focused back on the search finding the keys in seconds.
Wishing we could pat Vox, we, instead applaud him while he ignores us focused back on his toy.