By CRAIG KLEIMEYER
The Homewood Star intern Craig Kleimeyer rode along on an eight-hour shift with Homewood Police officers. Here’s what she learned behind the scenes.
1. Usually when you hear the word “beat,” you think of music, but that’s not what it means to Homewood patrol officers. Homewood is split into six different “beats,” and patrol officers work in those beats every day. Officers meet 15 minutes before their eight hour shift begins for roll call and beat assignments.
2. Patrol officers are not only patrol officers. After meeting Officer Craig Clifton, I soon found out that he is also a journalist for the military, which he said helps him write clear and concise reports for law enforcement. I also rode with Officer Ted Springfield, who has a wife and three kids.
3. Homewood’s sniper team is one of the best in the state. A sniper team member said Homewood has one of the few sniper teams with the capability of explosive breaching. “Other teams go to SWAT schools and refer to the Homewood Tactical Team,” Springfield said.
4. Many of Homewood’s patrol officers have been in the military. Clifton enlisted in the Army Reserves in 2007 and served as a public affairs specialist in Iraq. “The atmosphere of a police department is similar to active duty in the military,” he said. “A lot of Army reserves work in police departments.”
5. Officers treat each other like family. “Officer Poellnitz cooks dinner for you when you’re sick,” Springfield said. “It’s a small department, so we get to know each other pretty well.”
6. Becoming a patrol officer takes the right personality type and training. Before he went to 12 weeks of field training, Clifton first had to get a background check and take a personality based test to see if his personality and decision-making skills fit with law enforcement.
7. Officers don’t have to prosecute every crime every time. Clifton said that he and the other officers make individual decisions and use their own judgment when it comes to prosecuting crimes.
8. Officers try not to involve their emotions in their work. Springfield said patrol officers deal with so many tough situations and have to be careful with involving their emotions. “You keep an emotional distance from things,” Springfield said. “We try to keep it business-like.” He said it was hard for him sometimes if a situation involved kids.
9. Officers pay attention to the little details that we may not notice. Clifton and I drove around an apartment complex looking for cars that look out of place or for glass on the ground, which can be signs of crime. Springfield and I used the computer system in his patrol car to type in license plate tag information based on observations made about the cars.
10. The officers have a great sense of humor. Springfield said he likes to tell people to “have a blessed day” after he interacts with them and especially if he gives them a ticket. “Maybe then I won’t seem like so much of a jerk to them,” he said.
11. The stereotypes don’t always hold true. “We don’t really eat a lot of donuts and drink coffee,” Springfield said. Ironically, we had to make a mid-shift stop for some Starbucks.
12. We can help the patrol officers in the community. Springfield encourages citizens to join the Citizens Police Academy and to tap in on the work of the Homewood Police Department and help out. “We’re great officers doing a lot of good work and trying to keep everyone informed the best we can. It’s a group effort,” he said. “We need your eyes as well as our own.”
Other facts you might not know about the Homewood Police Department:
* Officers work the day shift from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30, the evening shift from 2:30 to 10:30 p.m., or the night shift from 10:30 to 6:30 p.m.
*79 police officers work at the Homewood Police Department. Typically, six patrol officers work per shift with a supervisor
*There are at least two dispatchers on duty per shift, and they cover calls for fire, police and 911.
*The Homewood Police Department receives an average of about 30,000 dispatcher calls per year.
*At the Homewood Police Department, the jail is located on the second floor. On an average day, there are about 20 people in jail.
*At least one corrections officer is always on duty at the jail.
*There are holding cells and 54 cameras in the jail.
*The computers in the patrol cars have two programs on them called New World and Move.
*New World is the NCIC database for law enforcement agencies. It lists the active units, has an ongoing call log, allows officers to type in information from license plates and to check for expiration and past citations, allows them to do case reports and field reports, and has a chat program with instant mobile communication.
*Move allows officers to write accident reports and arrest citations and to do people searches through the LETS program, but they will lose privileges if they use it for personal gain