The roles were reversed for two Richmond Senior teachers this week who got a few lessons themselves during an internship with the Rockingham Police Department.
Accounting and Computer Applications Donna Tedder described a communications meeting at the department, and said the most surprising aspect about police work is “just the process of filling out paperwork.”
“People don’t see it,” Police Chief Robert Voorhees said Thursday afternoon. “They don’t realize the magnitude of paperwork that goes into making a case …
“It’s all about paperwork, paperwork, paperwork and documentation, documentation, documentation - the greatest number of cases that are lost in the court system are due to improper paperwork or a lack of documentation. It’s not always about who has the best lawyer, but about who can get their documentation in front of a jury.”
“I also found that communication is key with the dispatchers and officers,” Tedder continued. “So, they have to constantly know where everyone is, and who to send to certain places.”
For EC English teacher Cindy Floyd, Wednesday consisted of fieldwork.
“I did a ride-along, which was fascinating,” she said. “We did a couple of stops. That was very interesting … There’s so many ways it’s going to help me - it’s definitely not what I expected. Now, I’ll be able to truly tell my kids this is not a joke - what they do, so choose your friends wisely because it takes a lot more to get out of trouble than it does to get in it.”
Voorhees said Floyd hit on the heart of the program’s mission.
“My biggest hope is that they can take back to their classes the message that there’s a lot more behind what they do than they may realize,” he said. “For instance, someone may see an officer stop a kid from skateboarding on the town square and think ‘Man, the police are such a bummer,’ but there’s a reason for that, and I think just this short period of shadowing police officers has definitely shown them that.”
This is a lesson that could translate into someone’s life not being ruined or lost completely.
“Maybe there will be some kid along the way who they can reach to stop them before they get too far down that path - just one would be worth it,” he continued. “A split second decision, such as getting behind the wheel of a car while you’re drinking or picking up a drug or pulling a trigger - can completely change the course of your life.”
Tedder explained she’ll now also be more comfortable counseling students, and even her own children, about career choices.
“Honestly, I don’t think I would’ve counseled anyone to go into law enforcement because of the safety issue,” she recounted. “But I felt safe. I mean, you’ve got (various equipment, weapons and training), and now I’ve got a better understanding of it.”
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at email@example.com.