by Annette Dashofy
It’s been over two years since I attended the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Citizen’s Police Academy. My certificate, pin, and class photo maintain a prominent spot above my desk. If you’re a writer who isn’t a cop, writing about cops, I doubt there is a better source of information and research than your local Citizen’s Police Academy.
So when I heard about another CPA, this one held by the Pennsylvania State Police, I printed out the registration form, filled it out and popped it in the mail in record time.
Class began last Tuesday evening at the Pittsburgh Technical Institute, a mere half hour drive from home (beats the hour and a half drive through rush hour traffic that I endured for the Pittsburgh classes).
Troopers Robin Mungo and Joe Christy led the orientation. First tidbit of knowledge gleaned: PA State Police don’t wear a badge. They have one, but don’t have to display it.
Once we’d all been officially signed in, Officer Mike Spagnoletti of Allegheny County Police Department took over and gave the class a rundown of his department.
Most counties have sheriff’s departments. Allegheny County, however, also has their police department, which originated in 1932. It has four divisions: Headquarters, Uniform, Detective, and Training. The Detective Division is further broken down into Homicide (and Allegheny County’s clearance rate is very high on homicides), Narcotics, and General Investigations.
Just a few odds and ends that you might find useful in your writing:
Part of the General Investigations unit involves audio-visual forensics. They clear up video or reconstruct damaged or destroyed tapes, CDs, or DVDs. I kept picturing NCIS’s McGee and Abby.
Those computers in police vehicles are called MDTs or Mobile Data Terminal.
Next week I’ll be back here on my regular Wednesday slot with CPA Week #2: the Driving Simulator.
In the meantime here are a few photos of our class room at PTI.
This is a poster of the evolution of police uniforms.
To give you an idea of what else is coming up, a few items on our agenda include making some traffic stops,
a visit to the ME's office, a tour of the jail, and an evening in night court. Stay tuned!