Citizen Police test their nerves in traffic stop simulation
SEAFORD, Del. – What would you do if you were in the shoes of a police officer at a traffic stop, and the situation got heated. The 26 participants in the Seaford Citizens Police Academy got their chance to find out Wednesday.
“I think we we’re all looking forward to getting into the officers seat, and seeing what it felt like,” said Jason Youngbar, a Seaford resident and a participant in the Citizen Academy.
In this academy exercise, everyday citizens are put into situations that police officers face on their everyday patrols, and they’re put into high-stress situations that police officers have to confront on a daily basis.
We asked participants to take us through a play-by-play, and what they told is things can happen fast, really fast.
They tell us as soon as the car was stopped, the driver jumped out.
“That’s when it really gets you pumping is when they step out and you think they’re going to do something,” said Brandon Tijerino, a Greenwood resident.
What happens next is a split-second life-or-death decision for the citizen officers.
“He then reached into the car and I had no idea what he was reaching for, he pulled out a cell phone, which thank god it was light enough I could see it was a cell phone,” said Youngbar.
The real-life simulation gives a new perspective on what officers face when on patrol.
“When you see so much footage that puts cops in a bad light on TV now, I think you really need to be in their place one time and going through something like this to get a realization of what they go through on the street,” said Youngbar.
And the lessons learned by these 26 locals can spread to others in the community.
“Participants in this class can go out and tell their family, friends, whatever, to kind of do certain things that can help make our job easier and make a whole situation end in a better result,” said Seaford Deputy Police Chief Michael Rapa.
This exercise is part of an eight-week course for the Seaford Citizen Police Academy. They will be holding graduation next week. The participants who graduate will also come away with CPR certification.