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At The Community Police Academy, Attendees Become "Citizen Cadets"

What does it take to perform a traffic stop? Handcuff someone? Make an arrest?

The Ohio State University Police Department recently opened its facility for a Community Police Academy to engage community members about how it operates.

Over four weeks, Ohio State students, staff and faculty experience the challenges police officers face on the job, and how quickly they  must react. At the same time, officers expect to learn how their actions are perceived by the community.

The below is an automated transcript. Please excuse minor typos and errors.

Debbie Holmes:  Here to talk with me about that is OSU police detective Cassandra Shaffer. And thanks for joining me.

Cassandra Shaffer: Thank you for the invitation.

Debbie Holmes: And also here to share his thoughts about the community police academy is Scott Grimsley, who works in OSU President Drake's office.

Scott Grimsley: Hi, thanks for inviting me.

Debbie Holmes: So Detective Shaffer, what is the aim of this community police academy?

Cassandra Shaffer: The aim is to give our community the chance to experience some of the everyday duties of a police officer, enlighten and educate our citizens on what we have to deal with every day, the training we have to accomplish and our goals as a police agency within this community.

Debbie Holmes: And so can you give me some more detail about what they're learning then from the academy?

Credit Courtesy of Ohio State University

Cassandra Shaffer: We started off our academy by allowing the cadets - we're calling them citizen cadets - to learn how to handcuff and prisoner process so that they could see not only the arrest portion but the due care process that we have to take after that initial arrest. We actually handled traffic stops and suspicious persons calls.

And what that was is we introduced them to body-worn cameras, police use of force and the case law associated with it, and then the participants were allowed to go out and practice performing a traffic stop or a suspicious person call and handle that with just a little information that we normally have as police officers.

Debbie Holmes: And so did they actually go on a real call?

Debbie Shaffer: They were simulated calls but they had to use a radio, they had to contact dispatch, they were dispatched to the run or they initiated a traffic stop. Again, they use their radio and then the role player, there were several scenarios that were provided and based on what the officer or the citizen cadet saw and experienced, it was, you know, they followed through and handled that call that way, whichever way they felt appropriate.

Debbie Holmes: Scott Grimsley, tell me what you are learning here at this academy.

Scott Grimsley: First and foremost what I'm learning is that things on the surface, what our police force does are not what they seem from the outside. I mean, we're all so used to tapping into sound bites and clickbaits on social media and quick to judge.

I can tell you in the first 10 minutes of the first class I quickly realized all of the things that an officer has to do just to handcuff a person, what we did, or exercise on that. And there are like 50 or 60 different things that go through your mind just to, like, stop a person, assess the situation, react to that person and decide whether they need to be handcuffed or not. It just really opened my mind to what they go through from their perspective, more than anything.

Debbie Holmes: Thanks so much. I've been talking with OSU police detective Cassandra Shaffer and also OSU staffer Scott Grimsley about the new community police academy here at Ohio State. Thanks for joining me.