We all knew what was coming as we anticipated the spectacle that was about to unfold in the police holding area. Two hours of classroom "show and tell" had us all riveted as firepower and chemical and electronic gadgetry was demonstrated by the Special Response Team of the Payson Police Department.
The Taser, which emits a 50,000-volt, non-lethal shock that incapacitates a criminal, was demonstrated. We were afforded the opportunity to experience the shock. Apparently, this is a rite of passage for the police officers kind of like keel hauling in the ancient navy.
A few of our men and women volunteered to experience the shock.
If ever faced with that situation, I will choose to not resist or attack police officers. And if they say "Get on the ground!" while pointing a shotgun at me, I will break the laws of gravity to get there before they say it a second time.
This was the fourth week of our Citizens Police Academy a 12-week training session on the ins-and-outs of law enforcement. Last week brought us an introduction to the toughest, roughest, most professional members of the Special Response Team. Their chief recommended these members to the Team for their intelligence, strength, cool-headedness and dedication toward catching the most life-threatening criminal element of all the armed and dangerous.
Although we had been well prepared, there was a moment of anticipation just before the curtain went up on the evening's "show." Suddenly there was a banging on the door: "Search Warrant! Open Up!," followed by an incredible BANG and flash of light. An expletive just barely escaped my lips.
In perfect unison, each man yelled at the top of his voice, "Search Warrant! Get on the ground!," securing each area of the room and moving on to the next. It was hard to understand the officers' commands in the cacophony of sound. Their shotguns and pistols were poised to stop any resistance.
The "criminal" was found, searched and cuffed. All that yelling, firepower and show of force made me wonder how anyone would resist arrest in the face of so much armament and brute force. Even within this demonstration, the guns and commands were frightening.
After the demonstration, the officers briefed us on the scene, and we were able to ask them questions about their mission.
Sweat was pouring off the officers as they explained their duties. The helmets and gear they wore weighed a ton throw in a rifle or two and you're talking a lot of extra weight.
The dedicated officers of the SRT commit to defusing high-risk operations and securing our lives, all without any extra pay. Their credo to "protect and serve" is what drives them.
The Citizens Police Academy takes a week off for the Fourth of July, then returns July 12 for another demonstration session on gangs and narcotics.
Editor's note: Writer Lucinda Campbell is among 30 local residents participating in a 12-week Citizens Police Academy at the Payson Police Department. The following report is part of a special Roundup series on this behind-the-scenes look at law enforcement training.