Deep inside the cops beat

How else could I learn the attributes of each type of blood spatter found in crime scenes, that dogs in a K-9 Unit can run up to 35 miles per hour or  exactly how a Taser shot feels?


(Herald-Journal photo)TIM KIMZEY/

Gross on Patrol is a series of articles the Herald-Journal has run each Sunday chronicling my findings as a participant in the local police department’s citizens police academy. It’s a 12-week course for interested persons who are eager to get a hands-on knowledge of how and why police operate the way they do.

I’ve found it’s the best way not only to build sources, but to develop credibility and have a greater sense of what I’m reporting on when I write “the officer deployed a Taser on the fleeing suspect.”

That’s right, I was the lucky one who volunteered to feel a full cycle of a Taser exposure. After signing a waiver and using the bathroom, I stepped in front of an officer’s line of sight as he shot Taser prongs into my back. And down I went. You can find video of this and my full review of the experience here.


(Herald-Journal photo)TIM KIMZEY/

The academy has detailed the department’s history, how records and evidence are kept, use of force procedures, excessive force complaints and everything in between. All great subjects I can really sink my teeth into when I return to the keyboard.

I would recommend a citizens police academy course to any budding crime journalist. There’s no quicker, more effective way to learn everything you need to know about the beat.


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