"A Day in the Life..."
Perspective is defined as, “a way of looking at something or a frame of reference”. Recently my wife, Dr. Martina Moore, and I had the privilege of participating in a program that has drastically altered our perspective. The Euclid Police Department has a program called “A Day in the Life of a Euclid Police Officer”. At a recent Coffee Connection sponsored by the Euclid Chamber of Commerce, we were invited by Officer George Panagiotou to what we thought was a workshop or a lecture on the basics of police work. It turned out to be much more than that.
Officer George Panagiotou describes the program as follows: “The goal of our program is to improve the understanding of the public in relation to what our Police Department is tasked with and to demonstrate the difficulty that exists in even the most ‘routine’ of situations. This program also gives us, the Police Department, the opportunity to learn more from the participants as they share their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It is our hope that, by stimulating this type of open communication between the community and the Officers that serve it, both may come to understand each other better. This, in turn, allows the relationship between both entities to grow and prosper. Our Euclid citizens have a better understanding of our Officers and our Officers have a better understanding of the expectations and concerns of the citizens we serve”.
Euclid Police Department's "Day in the Life of a Euclid Police Officer" program is an opportunity to share the perspective of the City of Euclid through the eyes of a Euclid Police Officer. Members of the community are invited to participate in a four-hour class that shares various information including:
- Current demographic statistics of our city
- Criminal and Police activity statistics
- A breakdown of the Police Department's manpower and duties
- Capabilities and limitations of our Department
In addition, each participant is guided through “scenario training”, giving them a chance to experience a variety of situations that Officers deal with on a regular basis. Participants must function in the role of a Police Officer, defusing or escalating the situation as they feel necessary. These scenarios help to illustrate just how many moving pieces and areas of concern exist on every single call that our Officers respond to and how little time there may be to respond.
My expectations were greatly exceeded when I arrived with the six other attendees. We were instructed to put on the police-issued tactical vests lying on the display table in front of us. As we adjusted ourselves to the weight of the vest, I was surprised when we were then fitted with actual gun belts and semi-automatic handguns (that fired only paint pellets). The weight of the gear alone made me realize this was more than just a game; it was actually a look into the daily reality of the Police Officers who protect our community.
During our four hours at the program we were incorporated into four different real-life scenarios which we each had to decide how to handle. These were life and death situations that our Officers face every day. My perspectives on citizen compliance changed dramatically. I am now more sensitive to the reason and psyche behind the tone and posture of a police officer’s commands since I am more aware of the short reaction time in which a decision must be made. I am certainly much more respectful of the directions that Police Officers give and why they do so.
My biggest take away from the experience was that being a Police Officer is a noble profession filled with possibilities to help people and the potential for personal harm at the same time.
I want to thank the men and women of The Euclid Police Department who serve and protect us each day. Since I was sworn in as a Council Person my constant theme has been “Conversations”. This real life “conversation” called “A Day in the Life of a Police Officer” was the most authentic conversation that I have experienced in quite a while. I was able to more clearly understand their position and they were eager to hear mine. We dialogued in a way that was respectful, empathetic and meaningful. I would like to thank Police Chief Meyer and all of his staff that made this experience possible. I encourage you, if possible, to take a day and experience the same conversation that I shared with the Officers of the Euclid Police Department. It will greatly impact your perspective.
Vice President of Moore Counseling and Mediation Services, Inc., Councilman for Euclid Ward 2 and Associate Minister at Lake Shore Christian Church. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org