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Citizen Police Academy: week 9

060622-N-9742R-061, originally uploaded by milosz.reterski.

Our ninth class was Awesome Week for the citizen police class: dogs, bombs, and mounted patrol (horse & motorcycle).

K-9 Unit
German Shepherds are the dog of choice because they are agile, tough, and smart. On the other end of the totem pole you have Pugs, which are clumsy, dainty, and dumb (IQ rating just above a shovel). But, you would see a lot of Pugs on the beat if police dogs were picked for being adorable!

The drills were impressive. Our instructor hid a canister of black powder in the room and told his dog to "find bomb." The dog sniffed it out, eventually, then sat down and refused to move from that spot. Fun fact about K-9 units: when they spring a dog from that crate, it can't tell the difference between bad guys, cops, or bystanders. The dog will attack whoever looks threatening. Carry a chew toy.

Bomb Squad
For one reason or another, Minnesota gets a lot of bombs. St. Paul is a local leader and trains many regional units. By federal mandate, all U.S. bomb squads must have a robot by March 2009; St. Paul already has two. One of them is an older model "Ford truck" robot named Gary that's relatively easy to repair in the field. The other is a Packbot, an over $100,000 device made by iRobot (the same company that makes the Roomba). That's one of them in the photo above. It doesn't have a name.

Motor & Mounted Units
Motorcycles are now used primarily for traffic enforcement, and they are not allowed to do ride-alongs (lame). Horses are good for patrol because a mounted cop covers more ground than walking beat. They're also trotted out for crowd control, especially to clear the streets after big events (such as Grand Old Day). When a formation of horses comes walking down the street, people move out of the way. They know a police car isn't going to run them over, but a horse just might trample someone and not even care.

Incidentally, a lot of cops get hurt by horses too. We watched some painful videos of mounted officers falling and being thrown off their steeds. One former St. Paul mounted officer is now on permanent desk duty because of equestrian injuries. Horses, dude. They're scary.

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