Have you ever wondered what it’s actually like to be a police officer? I have, which is why I recently participated in the Tampa Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy. If you’ve never heard of this, the Citizen’s Police Academy is a free, nine-week program available to Tampa citizens to learn all about different aspects of law enforcement.
I really had no clue what to expect when I signed up for this program. Sure, I figured I would be taught some of the ins-and-outs of police work, but not to the extent that the Academy provided. The classes were taught by police officers and as they shared their experiences firsthand, it was obvious how passionate they were about keeping Tampa a safe city to live in.
Top 5 highlights from the Academy:
• Visit a 9-11 dispatch center – the amount of respect I now have for those workers is insane.
• Observe the TPD SWAT team perform a staged, tactical exercise – possibly one of the most intense things I’ve ever witnessed.
• Watch a handful of my classmates willingly choose to get tased by the Corporal – yes, despite my initial boasts of bravery, after the first person went, I chickened out.
• Sit in the back of a cruiser during a “high-speed chase” scenario – I was happy I had not yet eaten dinner that night!
• Put myself to the test acting as a police officer while participating in a traffic stop. This was similar to an improv exercise, in that the drivers were actors, but I had no idea how they would act when I approached their car. Did you know traffic stops are the most dangerous situation for a police officer to be in?
While all of the activities my class participated in were fun and exciting, they also taught us what it truly takes to be a cop. It’s a selfless, honorable, and necessary job – one that most people aren’t cut out for. So the next time you’re out enjoying our amazing city, think about the TPD police officers and remember that they’re the ones keeping it safe and enjoyable for us. I know I have a newfound respect for them.