I arrived home late enough last night to be brain dead after a full day of travel. I had written today's post on the road, and hope it's relatively coherent. Two conferences almost back-to-back are draining. I'll work my way through a few more WPA posts, then start on the Emerald City recaps. Stick around.
The second day at the Writers' Police Academy got off with a bang. Literally. We were ushered into a hallway at the college, ostensibly to hear one of the deputies talk about law enforcement on campus. He was interrupted by one of the group, who began shouting about his grades, and that someone had cheated. (He was a plant, of course). The next thing we knew, shots were fired, and someone was on the floor, bleeding. The action moved down the hall to a classroom where we could hear more shouting and more gunshots. The deputy called campus police and the EMS team, and we watched as the paramedics attended to the victims, and the police ushered a classroom full of students outside, hands on their heads. Afterward, we were free to ask questions about what we'd seen and heard.
When that demonstration was over, we continued our day with workshops—trying to decide which ones to attend was difficult, because they all seemed fascinating, but we couldn't be in two (or five) places at once. I started with Guns 101, led by an ATF agent.
In this presentation, we learned that the basic mechanics of guns are all the same. There's explosive in a tube, a projectile, and something to set it off. Rick divides guns into two classes: handguns and long guns, and he subdivided each category. In hand guns, he talked about the fixed-barrel guns like derringers, revolvers, and semi-automatic pistols. He talked about hammers vs. striker-firing systems/ Long guns are shoulder-fired and include shotguns and rifles. He then discussed single action vs. double action: cocking the hammer vs. a single trigger pull. Other bits of takeaway tidbits: the isosceles stance is growing in favor because it exposes less of a target to the shooter. Action beats reaction, which tends to put cops at the disadvantage from the start, since the bad guy knows if he's going to shoot or not, whereas the cop is trying to avoid using deadly force unless he feels his own life, or the lives of others, are in imminent danger. And, just in case you ever might need it in a book: Muzzle loaded rifles are not considered firearms by the feds—they're classified as antique curios.
Next, I went to the handcuffing class, where our instructor kept us laughing as he showed us the differences between hinged and chained handcuffs. Someone asked why the cuffs he had were yellow, and he said they came in a variety of colors and were often used to group or categorize prisoners. The really bad dudes got pink cuffs.
We learned that cuffs should be double locked so they don't tighten up and hurt the wearer, that the keyholes should be on top, and that cuffing someone in front gives them ample opportunity to unlock them. The instructor then demonstrated the way he would control a suspect, and the commands he gives. For example, he will not tell the suspect, especially a female, to "Spread your legs." Instead, he says, "Spread your feet apart," so that no bystander can call his superiors (or the press) and say, "There's this cop making inappropriate sexual remarks to a woman."
We watched and learned about how to cuff a suspect who's standing, who's kneeling, and who's lying prone on the ground. However, he admitted that "Any way you get them cuffed is fine," because the suspects don't always read the instruction manuals and aren't always compliant.
We learned the proper procedure for a felony stop with multiple suspects, and then how to search a suspect, as well as the different methods for searching male and female suspects.
Another tidbit. When searching suspects, one often finds the small glass vials that are used for selling roses. These are converted to crack pipes. Also, they find pieces of copper scrubbing pads, which are used to clean the crack pipes. So, if you go into a convenience store and find roses and copper scrubbers together at the front counter, there's probably a good drug business going on in the neighborhood.