[Editor’s Note: As a Public Safety Writer and one whom visits the City often, these posts are the Author’s commentary of her experiences and viewpoints only and as a Citizen attending weekly sessions. L.R. Swenson does not represent or have an affiliation with the Bellevue Police Department.]
WHAT IS A COMMUNITY ACADEMY?
A Community Academy is an undeniable chance at learning what your local Police Department does to protect the community you live, work or play in. It is a free and often, one of the best opportunities to know what it may be like to walk in a Police Officer’s shoes or at least get the rare chance of a lifetime to meet the real-life “Heroes” of today.
ACADEMIES ARE POPULAR AMONGST ITS RESIDENTS.
The Bellevue Police Department introduced new “students” to their 37th Community Academy with Introductions / Opening Comments from Interim Chief Jim Montgomery, Sheila Evans [Admin Specialist] and our Emcee, Lt. Travess Forbush.
Interim Police Chief Montgomery
Chief Montgomery shared his background from starting in Louisville PD [KY] to King County Sheriff’s Office [WA] to Bellevue Police Department [WA] to Boise [ID] then making a full circle back to BPD for a total of 43 years in Law Enforcement. Now, that’s dedication. And, what a successful career it has been – making his way up to Police Chief and reaching this position at an early stage in his career. He has many years on this level of achievement.
He had advanced to a higher level in his life: Retirement. However, he agreed to helping out a former and great Police Department, one that he led for several years. In his Chief’s comments, he did somewhat mention he is waiting for that right moment when Bellevue hires a new Chief. His Officers jokingly asked if he’d be willing to stay on for another five years. He politely declined.
Chief Montgomery assumed Command of the Bellevue Police Department after Chief Linda Pillo retired in April of this year.
He gave quite an Introduction, answered a few questions and asked the question of why we were interested in the Academy.
Here are some of the highlights from his Introduction.
- The city of Bellevue has approximately 135,000 residents and about one-and-a-half times during the day.
- Bellevue has a lot of diversity with many residents speaking over 60 languages.
- One Officer on the Force speaks Farsi!
- BPD has a lower crime rate that its counterpart on the East Coast.
- The Department has about 178 Officers and 42 Command Staff.
- Staffing currently is low, but they are working on hiring more Officers.
Lt. Travess Forbush [Emcee]
Lt. Forbush has a distinguished Law Enforcement career as well from starting at a young age to dedicating to 24 years on the Police Force. His background includes: Hostage Negotiations, overseeing Community Police Stations amongst a few of the sessions he’ll be covering. [these are two of his specialities]
Sheila Evans is the Coordinator and one of many behind the scenes to makes this Academy so popular and successful. Citizens who want to attend an Academy must fill out an application online and agree to a “background check” sending it in by mail or in our case, by fax.
As the Administrator for the Academy, we know [have the knowledge and the know-how] how much work, time, dedication and passion she puts into this event and to keep it on track each week. Not only is she the one whom puts all of this work into it, but she stays late. She is even seen breaking down the event, putting everything away and getting ready for the next day. If you attend one of these Academies with the Bellevue Police Department, be sure to thank her.
CITIZENS LOVE COMMUNITY ACADEMIES.
The class size is rather small with 20 being the max for students. A wide variety of “students” are in attendance and am so fascinated with them as well. You know everyone always has a “story”.
My reasoning for attending the Community Academy is simple.
“Learn how to write about the Law Enforcement Profession more accurately.”
Those attending our class, which is a great base of diversity from all walks of life [work related & interests]:
- There are an interest in becoming Police Officers.
- Those who may have lived in other Countries had experiences with Law Enforcement, want to see how American Police Officers “roll”. [Yes, pun intended]
- Of course, we said “Public Safety Writer / Author / Blogger” and immediately we were affiliated with mainstream media [we are not] and worried about what we’d say. [Note: We love the “public safety” realm and the last time we checked, there are always two sides to a story].
- One previously in the Fire Service [of course, that perked our ears up wholeheartedly].
- Several whom worked in Law and the Prosecutor’s Office. [fascinating careers]
- Those who just want to see what the Bellevue Police Department is all about and the Academies they offer.
Though we know what to do if we see a crime in progress, but what happens if you have just moved into the City recently, are unfamiliar when to call 9-1-1 or are unsure if you see something out of the ordinary or not. When is it a good time to call 9-1-1?
When calling 9-1-1, dispatchers will take the information asking you if you are needing Fire or Police and what you are reporting. If you are calling 9-1-1, you will reach the Washington State Patrol Dispatcher and indicate you need to be transferred to the Bellevue Police Department [only if you are not on the freeway] but within City limits. They will tell you if they are transferring the call.
If that happens, make sure to stay calm as possible when talking to the Dispatcher so he or she can understand what you are saying. They will type the information as you are talking to them. If you are having an medical emergency, make sure to let the Dispatcher know as well, as they will need to send out the Fire Department to your location. It is very important that you know your location at all times, including addresses and intersections.
Examples of When a Crime May be Occurring
It has been said that drugs are prevalent in many Cities and Communities, including the City of Bellevue. Earlier in the evening, someone had asked what type of drugs are Police seeing these days and where it may be happening.
In the early 1990’s, Heroin was a drug of choice changing to Meth then to Oxy in the late 1990’s. Police say addicts are getting their methadone at a clinic in the 140th and Bel-Red Rd area where some are also getting high on other drugs [picked up from other areas of the City].
Some Police are being led to bathrooms at parks and restaurants, where users are found after getting high.
Firefighters and Police Officers are brought into the dangerous world of used needles and drug paraphernalia, putting their lives in danger as well.
- Someone hanging out in an area that doesn’t belong there [i.e. you see them looking in cars or acting strange.
- Someone has gone into the bathroom and has been in there longer than your average person would be. [you be the judge of the time.]
- A person whom may be displaying bizarre behavior or acting aggressively.
Police Officers say that if you think it looks suspicious or something they should know about, don’t try to over think it – call 9-1-1 and they’ll address it. Even if you think, it’s nothing – call them. That’s what they are there for and they have recommended you call them. There have been many great tips where people have spotted something out of the ordinary, called it in and thought it could be nothing. They want you to call 9-1-1.
Smash & Grab Crimes Are Preventable
Smash & Grab crimes are when criminals smash your car windows with a tool and grab the valuables out of your vehicle. This is a simple way for them to “cash in” by hocking your valuables you purchased with your hard-earned money. Don’t become a crime victim.
Here are ways to help prevent the Smash & Grab thief from taking advantage of you:
- Don’t leave valuables in your car. Those signs that are placed in garages all over the place aren’t there for decoration. They are there for a reason and it’s probably because they have had similar crimes in the past. It is there to remind you to protect your valuables.
- Don’t be the driver who thinks that no one is around while you “hiding” your purse, wallet or valuables in your glove box or under the seat. Knowing darn well, the “thieves” are being shown where you have “hidden” your valuables and will most likely target your vehicle.
- If you park in a secured garage, it is not a 100% secure. Thieves have been known to get inside the garages working their way from the lower level when no one is around to the top. By the time, they have removed all valuables, it becomes difficult to catch them. Don’t become a victim.
- You see something happening, call 9-1-1! Be a great witness by providing the crime occurring, what you are seeing, the description of the person committing the crime and give a contact number. Police want to catch the bad guy, but if they can’t reach you by phone to have you point out the bad guy or to say that he was the one who did it, it becomes a waste of time for Police to be able to arrest them. Be a Smart Witness!
A SHAMELESS PLUG FOR THE BPD
Though, we are not representing nor are we affiliated with the Bellevue Police Department, we do actually a few friends on the Force and know that this is a great Agency to work for.
So, You Want to be a Police Officer.
Due to retirements and a few great Officers leaving to go to other Police Departments in the region, BPD is hiring like crazy. A dozen Officers were hired this year and currently are working on being trained so they’ll be hitting the City streets soon.
It takes approximately 9-12 months from the hire date until an Officer to hit the streets. We would imagine this includes the Police Training Academy, as well.
They are looking for men and women with either a two-year AA degree or a Military Veteran. You can see more requirements on the City’s website http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/police-employment.html.
Check out the Hiring Pamphlet Bellevue PD has online http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/pdf/Police/m10771-2013RecruitPamphlet_WEB.pdf.
There are Two Sections [Listed in 3 sections] for Commissioned Officers:
- PATROL & TRAFFIC | This includes: K9, Special Enforcement Team, Community Station Officers, the Downtown Squad, Accident Investigations, Field Training Officers and Motorcycle Officer Enforcement.
- SUPPORT SERVICES | Investigations | Includes several units: Violent Crimes, Property Crimes, Fraud Crimes, Forensics Lab, Crime Analysis Unit, School Resource Officers; oversees the Eastside Narcotics Task Force composed of several Detectives from Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond and King County.
- SUPPORT SERVICES | Administrative Services | Includes: Records, Property / Evidence Room, Personal Service / Recruiting Unit, Courts and Custody and Volunteer Program.
Hope you enjoyed our Commentary for Week #1 and we appreciate you visiting us Today. You may also find us Tweeting about “Everything Public Safety” [@nwfireblog] or you can check out our Facebook page [ The NW Fire Blog ]
Next Week’s Post: “Patrol Function” by Lt. Tarantino and Field Training Officer Program by FTO Lt. Manning.
Be Safe Friends and Remember to call 9-1-1 when you see something suspicious, out of the ordinary or a crime being committed.
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