Editor's Note: In this weekly column, I am going to write about what I've learned each week at the academy. Some of the topics that will be covered in this column and at the Citizen's Academy is identity theft, homicide investigation, self defense, and there will also be ridealongs with officers, a Taser demo and an opportunity to participate in a service weapons shoot. The Citizen's Academy is held every Thursday at the Eagan Police Department from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
This past week our class was split up into two parts: half of us went to experience the department's firearms simulator and at the same time, the other half us the class learned police officers' self defense tactics.
During the firearms simulation, which was described as sort of a "glorified Xbox," two of us at a time would go in front of the class and be equipped with a "gun" to use in the "game." We watched a situation arise on a big screeen and we had to make quick decisions, use assertive commands on "suspects," and decide if and whether the situation needed the use of a taser or gun. The training is the same training the department's officers go through.
Sgt. Dan Mason was in charge of this specific piece of the Citizen's Academy, and after each scenario played out, he'd explain how we could've better handled it or what could've happened, etc.
In the self defense training, we learned several different situations officers might be in and how they keep themselves safe. Officers Tony Sundgaard and Tony Lejcher showed the class several self defense maneuvers on mats.
Sundgaard told the class that officers must be OK with being attacked and they should accept the face that it will likely happen to them.
Officers practice physical training twice a week at the department.
According to Sundgaard, officers don't have to be an athlete, but they need to be able to know how to protect themselves if ever attacked. They also need to be able to recognize what type of "fighter" they're dealing with.
Sundgaard said there are three types of fighters, the boxer/karate, wrestler/grappler and the brawler (which is their most common fighter).
The brawler is often times the person who may be drunk and just looking for a fight, for example.
Sundgaard and Lejcher showed us what to do if the suspect is on the ground, if the suspect is on top, if the officer is on top, various strikes and kicks... etc.
Officers must react and not panic when and if an attack happens.
"If someone is willing to attack a police officer, they are likely willing to kill you," Sundgaard said.
According to Sundgaard and Lejcher, officers deal the use of force about 60 times a year (averaging about one a week).