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Citizen Police Academy: week 2

Hooker Tracks, originally uploaded by telethon.

Last time we learned--among other things--about St. Paul's historic bicycle patrol. This week we met a modern-day bike cop who told us stories about riding through the skyways of downtown St. Paul and hiding in plain sight on the streets. People don't see bikes. That extends to criminals and to bicycle police, who can ride up and apprehend bad guys before they can resolve the mental discrepancy of an officer who's not in a squad car.

Fun facts about the Ramsey County Emergency Communication Center (ECC):

  • A telecommunicator can take 400 calls in an 8-hour shift (that's 50 calls per hour!)
  • They can track a cell phone signal from the tower to within 50 meters of the calling phone.
  • Noise complaints are the lowest call priority. For example, if you report a barking dog, they will wait 75 minutes to dispatch. The dog's probably not going to be barking any more by then. Our presenter said that they don't get many of these complaints.
The highlight of my evening was an undercover Vice officer. Because some details had already appeared in the newspaper, he was able to talk about a recent case involving a prostitute named "Fancy." Myth busted: if you ask a cop if he's a cop, he CAN lie to you and say that he's not a cop. This is not entrapment. You will still be arrested if you sell him drugs or whatever. Stoners beware.

The most entertaining part of class was question and comment time. One of our classmates, apropos of nothing, told the bike cop that women don't like riding bikes. A woman tried to ask the ECC speaker something about squad cars connecting to satellites and calling other countries, except nobody could figure out what the question was.

The same lady also seemed to ask the Vice cop if he could remove prostitution from the Internet. He looked somewhat confused, but answered, "no, we can't do that."

"Well, you should," she said under her breath.

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