“Thirsty Thursday” With UPD

When a police officer approaches a group of teenagers partying and having a good time, it’s usually not a good thing. When UP Officer Andrew Phelps and Tim Kelly from Geneseo First Response (GFR) approached the main lounge of Suffolk Hall, however, the residents and RAs happily greeted them and had them join the party. This past “Thirsty Thursday” the Suffolk residents learned about underage drinking instead of engaging in it.

Officer Phelps Lays Down the Laws

Suffolk Hall Welcomes UP and GFR

The music in the main lounge was lowered, bachata dancing ceased, and everyone abandoned their games of “candy pong” to watch the presentation. Phelps, who has been on the force for seven years, began by unfolding a presentation board listing the different laws concerning underage drinking, false identification, and the new amnesty law that went into effect in 2011.

The amnesty law states that if a person is to call the authorities to help another who is under the influence they will not be punished, even if they are underage and/or under the influence, as well. However, Phelps clarified that if they are responding to such a call and find someone who is underage and under the influence that didn’t make the call, that person will face the ramifications.

Next Phelps discussed the rules and regulations concerning fake IDs. He warned students against walking around with more than one form of identification at a time (excluding the student ID), because it could raise suspicion. However, those who are caught with a fake ID can ask the judge to reduce the maximum fine, especially if they are a first time offender.

A  Routine Call for GFR

After explaining the legal side of underage drinking Kelly stepped in to give a demonstration of how GFR, step-by-step, responds to a call. Kelly, first assistant chief and senior mathematics major here in Geneseo, called for a volunteer. First, he asked the volunteer how they felt, and then for an ID to record demographics and medical history.

He then took the volunteer’s blood pressure and pulse—which may upset some ladies as nail polish is removed prior to assure accurate results from the finger monitor.

Geneseo First Response 2013-2014

Next he examined the volunteer’s breathing and pupils before doing a sensory/reflex check. One tip Kelly gave the residents was that if a student calls for assistance he or she should create a clear path and stay out of the way to make the respondents’ job easier. If the person is taken to the hospital, he advises roommates/friends to gather their cell phones and a change of clothes to give the ambulance staff.

Once Kelly finished, the presentation concluded. Afterward the presenters mingled with the students as the party continued. To Phelps and Kelly, getting to know the students is just as important as protecting them.

Training Days: Officer Stall

Having graduated only a little over three months ago, Officer David Stall remembers his time training for police work well. He explains it as split into two sections: classroom learning, and hands-on experience.

The time spent in the classroom included many special guest instructors, such as lawyers, different officers, and municipality workers. “A lot of the instructors were really experienced,” explains Stall, “They could really tell us first-hand experience.”

Officer Stall on night patrol

Officer Stall on night patrol

One guest was an officer whose partner was shot in the line of duty. The officer saved the life of his fellow policeman with the EMS skills learned in the academy, really putting into perspective the importance of this training.

The hands-on experience included a lot of work with firearms. The training emphasized proper safety as well as techniques for proper shooting.

Stall explains with a grin that although he didn’t grow up around guns and had never shot one before one of his proudest accomplishments is becoming the “Sharpshooter” of the academy, which he likened to being a school’s top, all-star athlete.

Despite all of these great experiences what stuck with Stall the most was advice on officer safety. “The biggest thing at the end of day is to go home,” says Stall.

A lot of people imagine police officers as reckless people who storm buildings full of criminals alone, but this is hardly the case. An officer faces danger often, and has to keep him or herself safe in order to keep others safe.

Despite the inherent danger associated with police work, Stall keeps a positive attitude, and really enjoyed his time training.

“Overall, the academy was a dream come true,” says Stall with a grin, “I dreamt it and I did it.”

College or Police Work? Applying is More Similar Than You Think

Police Training is a full time job. 8:00AM-4:30PM five days a week and occasional Saturdays is the schedule police trainees live by for six months. “It actually,” comments Stall, “reminded me of college.”

The process of becoming part of SUNY Geneseo’s police force is a lot more like applying for colleges than you might think. Stall, a relatively recent college grad, himself, parallels his road to policing to that of student searching for colleges.

“Growing up my whole life,” explains Stall, “I’ve had a will and desire to help people.” Like any high school student, he knew what he liked but just wasn’t sure how to apply it. So he turned to one of the great experimental opportunities available for students: extracurricular activities.

Stall describes his choices in life like building blocks towering up to the level of genuine policing. It was a ride along with a police officer in high school that sparked his interest, and the rest just seemed to fall into place: a degree in criminal justice, a college internship with NYS troopers, an internship at Disney World that led to a job with their security department, and finally a job with TSA at a Buffalo airport.

With a resume as strong as his, policing was Stall’s next logical step. After taking a Civil Service Exam specifically related to state university police work (the SAT of the police world), Stall sent out his resume across the state.

He earned many interviews, but only attended one—SUNY Geneseo—where he got the job. Although getting the job doesn’t just mean starting police work, it means starting training. But the payoff—the job helping people—is already set, locked into the future, a nice perk of policing I’m sure many college grads are envious of.

Training Days: Officer Fowler

Police training is a rigorous process not unlike earning a college degree–except you only get six months to master it all. Officer Greg Fowler shared with us some of his experiences training for his position with UP.

Before starting work with the police, Fowler spent five months training at the Fingerlakes Law Enforcement Training Academy in Canandaigua, where officers learned all the basics of criminal justice. He agreed that the first three months were useful but not exactly thrilling.

Officer Fowler is ready for anything

However, after those long hours poring over books, the officers-to-be are rewarded with two months of “hands-on” experience.

This includes everything from shooting range practice to defensive tactics, from procedures to evacuate a building to even being Tased just to fully understand the weapons at their disposal.

“Don’t get Tased,” Fowler admonishes, “Tasing is just five seconds of no fun.”

There is no sit-down final at the end of the program. If you think three hours of testing is stressful, imagine a four week test with your every action being scrutinized by your superiors. For this test the officers-to-be are basically on duty under the supervision of qualified officers; it’s the ultimate hands-on experience.

“You’re doing it to learn,” explains Fowler, “You’re going to mess up. You just have to hope you don’t mess up too much.”

It’s a learning experience, every step of the way. And all that hands-on and on-site practice provides the best education possible for a police officer.

The results are definitely worth the stress. “My first two weeks here I helped an older lady change a flat tire at 11 PM,” says Fowler with a smile, “I like to help people.”