FLEMING ISLAND – It was unnerving to come around the corner and see two brothers arguing over a $180 pair of boots, especially when one of them pulled a gun from his waistband and pointed it at the …
FLEMING ISLAND – It was unnerving to come around the corner and see two brothers arguing over a $180 pair of boots, especially when one of them pulled a gun from his waistband and pointed it at the other.
Do I pull my gun? Do I yell at him to drop it? Do I try to coax him into giving up?
The reality is, the brother – or I – could be dead in the time it took to think about any of the options.
The Day as a Deputy Citizens’ Academy offered insights into the difficult job of being a Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputy.
A group of 16 took the four-hour class on Friday, Nov. 22. We were given insight into answering disturbance calls, as well as getting information on the marine unit, dive team, SWAT team, K-9, traffic enforcement and getting a sneak peek inside the Mobile Command Unit.
It was a lot of information in a short amount of time. It also proved, before a deputy puts on a badge and hits the street, they’ve gone through hundreds of training hours and real-life situations.
“You guys will get to see some of the fun stuff,” said CCSO Undersheriff Ron Lendvay said before the session started.
Fun? perhaps. Enlightening? absolutely.
What’s clear is being a cop isn’t anything like you see on television. Decisions often have to be made in split seconds. And there are no do-overs.
We saw how K-9s are used to alert deputies of the likely presence of illegal substances. The sheriff’s office has dogs that are trained for specific jobs. Dogs like Cash and Ory have been responsible for helping deputies uncover drugs – and make arrests.
What we learned is that dogs can’t differentiate between marijuana, cocaine, fentanyl or methamphetamine. If they smell something, they react.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the day was learning how deputies enforce traffic laws. Patrol cars and motorcycles are equipped with radar detectors on the front and rear bumpers, so they can get a speeder coming or going. When they use hand-held laser detectors, they are required to estimate the speed of a driver before deploying the laser. Their estimate is supposed to be within 5 mph, either way, of the laser finding. If not, they won’t stop you.
But we also learned, since they’ve seen thousands of cars on the road, they’re really good at estimating speed, so slow down.
We learned the waterways in Clay County are so murky or filled with dark tannins, divers have no visibility once they go under. They rely solely on feeling with their hands, and they train by recovering items tossed into a retention pond or creek.
Every aspect of law enforcement can be done inside the Mobile Command Unit, including the 911 call center. In an emergency, it can offer the tools needed to answer any emergency. And it’s on wheels.
More important, it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime. The money used to buy the truck came from drug seizures.
Now we go back to answering calls. Anytime a deputy is dispatched, they generally are walking into a volatile – and unpredictable – situation. Worse yet, no two calls are alike.
To show that, all 16 deputies for a day were subjected to different scenarios. I had one brother pointing a gun at his brother during an argument. I also had a suspicious SUV parked in an area where there had been a lot of copper theft. When I found the SUV, it turned out to be a couple fighting. They ran from the car with the man threatening the woman.
In both situations, I didn’t react quickly enough.
When I saw the brother pointing a gun at his brother, I should have reacted by shooting the armed man. In the case of the fighting couple, I should have tried to get between the two to break it up.
In both situations, I not only was unprepared, but I also don’t believe I was capable of making such difficult – and physical – decisions.
That’s why I’m going to leave it to the professionals.