Learning about safety with seniors
November 6, 2013
The annual Senior Citizens Law Enforcement Academy has two purposes. First, to acquaint seniors with the services of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts, Douglas County Senior Services and TRIAD. Second, to give active seniors information they need if they wish to volunteer to support these agencies.
TRIAD is a national organization bringing these agencies together. First formed in 1985 by the National Sheriff's Association, the International Chiefs of Police Association and AARP to help reduce victimization of the elderly, there are now over 400 local TRIAD chapters nationwide. The Douglas County chapter was organized in 1996 to enhance quality of life for DC seniors.
I was among 25 seniors over age 50 who attended the academy in September. Each afternoon was packed with information. After a welcome by Sheriff Ron Pierini, Capt. Aymami gave an introduction to DCSO including patrol, traffic, investigation, jail and administration. Dispatcher Nonie McCandless explained how technology has made dispatch more efficient. Our local dispatch handles calls from Douglas County, Alpine County, Washoe Police, Carson City, fire, search and rescue, and animal control. Chief Dave Fogerson of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts introduced representatives of his departments, all wearing their call out gear. A structure firefighter wears 70 pounds of gear including oxygen pack, leap frog hose, and turnouts that protect him from 300 degree heat. The wildland firefighter uses lighter gear so he can climb hills and negotiate brush easier.
Deputy Bret Hicks, a motorcycle traffic officer, gave an entertaining presentation including patrol and traffic divisions. Deputy Ron Miler explained the mission of the Gang Unit.
Tuesday covered investigation with Sgt. Jim Halsey and an introduction to the Street Enforcement Team by Investigator Jon Storke. Deputy District Attorney Tom Gregory explained the District Attorney's office. The day ended with a tour of the jail by Sgt. Lesquereux. Inmates have been known to call it Disneyland.
Wednesday's topics were SWAT and weapons, the history of handguns used by law enforcement, and the pros and cons of different models.
Thursday we learned about the K-9 team ending with a demonstration. It's amazing how focused the dogs are. They are trained to respond with their natural instinct to grab and hang on, just as a puppy does in play. They are not trained by physical abuse so they have no animosity toward their victim and are easily called off by their trainer/partner. Suspects that won't cower before a pulled weapon will often whimper before a K-9.
Use of Force and Taser were demonstrated by Deputy Bill Addington. DC Search and Rescue and the Mounted Posse discussed how they support the sheriff and fire agencies. James Matthews, 14-year-old Pau-Wa-Lu student, gave a very informative presentation about the Mounted Posse. In the parking lot, one member with her horse, explained how the horses are chosen and trained for search and rescue, crowd control, disaster response and large animal rescue.
Friday covered TRIAD, Neighborhood Watch, Youth Services, and Citizen Patrol. Travis Lee, president of senior services and public transit manager, outlined services for seniors including ICE, which stands for In Case of Emergency. Seniors and others are encouraged to add ICE contacts to their cell phone addresses. If you are in an emergency situation and cannot speak for yourself an emergency responder will check your cell phone for ICE contacts.
Sgt. Brooks discussed being aware of activities in your neighborhood. He warned seniors about young men coming to the door selling subscriptions, and to ask all door-to-door salespeople if they carry a Traveling Merchants Permit. Deputy Teresa Duffy gave an energetic presentation on the work she does with Youth Services and the DCSO Explorers.
Sgt. Brooks tied up the week with information about Citizen Patrol, a volunteer organization that supports the TRIAD agencies. They patrol neighborhoods and shopping centers, issue parking citations, and help with crowd control. Many Citizen Patrol members are retired peace officers, but you don't have to have that experience to qualify. Citizen Patrol, Mounted Posse, Search and Rescue, TRAID, Chaplain Unit and more are all volunteers. From office duties to reserves, volunteers are needed. If you are interested in volunteering to support our Douglas County Service professionals, contact 782-9931.
At the finale of the academy, Sheriff Pierini gave a closing talk and presented each of the attendees a Certificate of Completion.
I've barely covered all the information shared with the group. I came away with the knowledge that we are well taken care of here in Douglas County.
Chris Olesen is a Gardnerville author.