I sat in a cop car, walked through the detention center and smelled the inside of a jail cell — but I hadn’t done anything wrong. That was just one class at the Broomfield Police Department’s third annual Citizen’s Academy.
Six police officers, and Jolene Reefe, the public education coordinator, used three blocks of five Wednesdays to educate students on what police officers do, how to become better citizens, how to best help our neighbors, and to realize police officers are normal people with jobs.
The Special Weapons and Tactics Team put on a demonstration and we were greeted by officers dressed for urban war — an intimidating sight for my group, which included retired people, engineers, nurses, other professions I can’t remember, a few teenagers, and me, a housewife. I imagine to a criminal, they’d be scary. Officer Todd Dahlbach secured special permission for the demonstration and we experienced a flash bang at a distance, met with the guys and held some of their gear.
Officers Zach O’Leary and Mike Svela taught us about fraud. I have since stopped receiving paper bills, if possible. I try to pay bills online. My car registration and proof of insurance are in my wallet now, and not the anything-but-gloves box.
Officer Collin Kulaga shined when talking about the detention center, which looks nothing like a jail. Detention center personnel try to maintain a balance between “you did the bad and you’re in jail” and “we know you’ll be released into our community and we don’t want you to do this again, so let’s try to get your life under better control.”
Officer Zach Hall talked about his job as a school resource officer. He’s at the schools to break up fights, keep drug dealers at bay and generally show kids cops are human.
When officers talked about arrests and interrogations, one person asked how they feel about being recorded by cell phones during arrests. I was impressed by their general answer, which was something like “I’m a professional. People can record all they want as long as they don’t get too close and interfere.”
I went on my ride-along with Svela. He’s done pretty much all police jobs, and now is a master police officer. You’d think a person would be jaded after 20 years as a cop, but Svela is a delightful fellow. His brothers in blue sometimes make fun of his ability to regurgitate the exact text of laws and statutes; the man does have a phenomenal memory and an upbeat attitude.
We had nights for DUI stops, the Emergency Response Team, forensics, how to protect your house from burglary, a K-9 demonstration and animal control.
I’m happy to have been a part of these classes. Do I want to be a police officer when I grow up? No, I’m too old for that, but, if either of my kids want to be police officers, I’d support them.