Week Five of the Stephenville Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy followed suit with the previous four weeks’ classes, further familiarizing citizen students with the inner workings of the dDepartment.
Thursday night's instructors included Sgt. Sha King, Animal Services Officer Kallie Burns, and Communications Division Dispatchers Kristi Metsgar and Leslie Stoker, with 10 and 12 years of experience on the job respectively.
“We get everything you can imagine on our calls, from the absolute worst to the laughing-out-loud funny,” Metsgar said.
The two then narrated a powerful, moving PowerPoint show that included a little of all that, including recordings of a mentally-ill caller who was off his medications and imagining an invisible woman in his living room who was asking for chicken broth, to potential suicide calls.
On the hilarious side, Stoker said, “You wouldn’t believe how many people can’t tell us their location, especially college kids who’ve moved into an apartment and don’t know the street address so we have no easy way to find them. We’ve also had people calling us at 911 because their cable TV isn’t working.”
Next Officer Burns of Animal Services explained her duties as “Enforcing laws and city ordinances pertaining to animals, answering animal-related calls within the city limits, including stray, injured or deceased animals, feral cats, animal bites and cruelty/neglect calls.”
She then conducted a slide presentation that showed statistics about rabies in Erath County. In case you're curious, 33 animals were tested for the disease in 2014 with three testing positive including two skunks and one raccoon.
Burns’ presentation then moved on to the grisly world of dog bites, including several graphic slides depicting actual bite victims.
Those showed the shocking extent of damage people have suffered when attacked by dogs and Burns pointed out, “Of course fatalities from dog bites are not uncommon in the US, and Texas had seven dog attack deaths in 2014.”
The class then went outside for a tour of the highly-sophisticated vehicle and equipment, including the tranquilizer pistol and rifle Burns sometimes has to use on the job.
As is shown in the accompanying photo of Burns and the Animal Services vehicle, her ride is no less high tech than a well-equipped ambulance or fire vehicle.
Up next was Sgt. King who explained the duties of Officer Joe Stafford, the city’s School Resource Officer, or SRO, who could not attend the evening’s classes.
The SRO is a uniformed officer who is charged with the many duties of the wide-ranging position, including the ongoing study of behavioral science to understand why kids do what they do, teaching anti-bullying and Internet safety classes, overseeing crime prevention through campus analysis, teaching drug and alcohol recognition, and doing Critical Incident Planning.
The latter includes photographing and diagramming individual campus layouts. This is done, King said, to ensure that should a critical incident occur, responding officers “know the lay of the land” and exactly what they may be walking into in a classroom, cafeteria, hallway, etc.
The last segment was also taught by King and covered professional standards, primarily addressing how complaints – both informal verbal ones, and the more serious written formal ones - are fielded and processed by the department.
“We take internal policing of department actions and personnel very seriously and are constantly reviewing reports, videos and other information to make sure we maintain the highest standards in our department," King said.