Saturday, April 21, 2018

Law & Order DUN DUN -- Week One

I'm taking the "citizens academy" course offered by my county's district attorney. On one night a week for eight weeks I will sit in a conference room at the police station and learn about parts of the local criminal justice system.

This week there was also pizza.

There are about thirty people in the class although probably a third of them are attached in some way to the DA's office or one of the other agencies. The rest of the class is almost entirely composed of white women. (Yes, I realize I am also a white woman.) Since that doesn't really reflect the demographics of my area, I can only speculate about why that is.

In any case, during the first week the DA came in and introduced the heads of the local law enforcement groups (county sheriff, chiefs of police departments, CHP commander, and probation department) and gave each of them about 15 minutes to speak. Their talks ran the gamut.

  • The county sheriff (an elected position that this guy has held for the last twenty years) sounded a lot like a seventy year old good ol' boy who had been a politician for the last twenty years. His department has a lot of parts, so that was interesting to learn about, but like any politician he was careful to make sure he got credit for things. He's not running for reelection after this term because the county had to pay out a bunch of money to settle a sexual harassment suit against him earlier this year. (He didn't mention that last bit.)
  • Apparently Davis has a big problem with meth and heroin. Also, the population has doubled without the PD adding any more officers. On top of that, they're having a hard time filling positions that they do have. (This was a common theme among all the PDs.) The reason they're having a hard time filling the positions is because they're looking for people who can do the job without being power-hungry assholes. (That was my interpretation of what he said.) Turns out, that's what a lot of the departments are looking for these days.
  • UC Davis and the city of Davis both have their own police departments. I mean, I sort of knew this, but I'd forgotten. The UCD chief is new (hired after the pepper spray fiasco) and seems like a really sharp guy. (He used to be in charge of the CHP for the entire state.)
  • The Woodland PD chief couldn't make it (which is a bummer because they recently hired him from Texas and I've been wondering what he's like) but his lieutenant was there, and wow did that guy have a Boston accent despite living here for decades. He claimed not to know the racial breakdown of the force, which... I guess it's true that it would be something only HR would know, but I was surprised he didn't just direct the question into talking about what efforts they are making to increase diversity. (I'm not slamming him for this -- I can just see that he's not the one who usually has to give these talks.)
  • The CHP guy spent most of his time talking about the CHP training center that's in the county. It has dormitories! It has its own cafeteria! Not really the point of the evening but whatever.

And then there was the guy from one of the nearby smaller towns who managed to spend fifteen minutes talking about how hard it is to be a white man these days. I mean, that's not what he thought he was saying, but... I'm really hoping he was just having an off night, because if he reads people in general as badly as he read that room, he has no business being in law enforcement. It makes me glad I don't live in that town.

So that was week one. Next week we get to talk about what the DA does and how a case goes through the system. That should be interesting even though there won't be free pizza.

And finally, a bit of humor. At the end of class we went around the room introducing ourselves and giving "one unique thing" about ourselves.

One girl, a student in college, said, in this class of 30+ people, that her unique thing was "I'm a Libra". And as I'm staring at her in disbelief because there are only twelve astrological signs possible, three other people are exclaiming about how odd it is that they are Libras too!

I think maybe week two should include a refresher course on simple probability...


Route 8 said...

Fascinating! I’m envious! Hope you can share more.

Cynthia said...

This was a really interesting post. Hopefully there are changes in the air for Yolo County with the election of a new District Attorney at the upcoming June election.