Wednesday, December 4, 2013
We did it. We all made it through 11 classes plus two Saturdays and now it is over. To a one we are all disappointed. We have so enjoyed the classes, the officers leading them and the information we have learned…not one of us wants it to be over.
Chief Bruce Owens is showing his deep appreciation to the citizens who have given three hours plus a week for the past three months to attend this Citizens’ Police Academy by taking us to dinner at Oscar’s. Lt. Rick Peeples, in uniform, attends as well. Unfortunately none of our other instructors are in attendance.
Some of us bring spouses. We gather in a back room at the restaurant (the Chief is smart to keep us rabble-rousers out of the general restaurant population) and the Chief starts the evening by holding an informal “graduation ceremony” where each of us is presented with a certificate of our accomplishment and a handshake.
Graduating tonight are Sharon Barnes, Shawn Owen, Ke-Niya Fair, Debra Bueneman, Vermel Fair, Eugene Lemieux, Rosemary Jackson, Joshua Frost,
Pamela Cobin and Dale Cook. Oh…and me.
Afterward, we settle in for a delicious meal and fun conversation.
“What could we have done better?” asks the Chief.
There is a brief silence while we struggle to come up with something.
The only thing we can think of is “more hands-on.”
Oh yes, and the judicial part that we missed out on because the judge didn’t get there.
Owens asks if we have any questions and a few do, which he answers at length.
He tells us some stories from his days of policing.
I find I am the well-deserved brunt of much humor, especially about the number of questions I asked during the classes.
As the evening winds down, everyone gets ready to leave but not without a hug for each and every classmate. We have formed friendships here and we will miss each other.
As I look back at the last three months of classes that I have enjoyed and written about with humor and waggish quips, I feel I need to also communicate the openness and honesty we saw.
We heard about both the good and the bad. We learned about mistakes made in the past and how the department and/or individual officers learned from them. We heard about officers who did not conform to the department’s standards and how they were no longer with the department. We learned that a police force is made up of human beings who are expected to live by a much higher standard than the rest of us. Every day. All day.
We learned how good men can make a split second decision that might cost them their lives.
We learned about the criminals who spend their time keeping a police force occupied. We learned about good citizens who need help and get it.
We learned that honesty and integrity are the mandates of the Summerville Police Department and anything less is not tolerated.
We learned about the frustration law enforcement lives with, when it must pick and choose what crimes it can investigate, when it finds no useable evidence or no way to track someone’s belongings.
We learned how the law protects us from the government. We learned how law enforcement must operate within that law.
We learned how hard it is to police and keep safe a community that has grown 10 times its original size while its police department has not.
And we all agree…we are thankful to the men and women of the Summerville Police Department and wish them Godspeed every day that they may go home at the end of shift to their families, safe, knowing they are part of a job well done.