On the Beat with Lt. Schoeppner

LT. SchoeppnerWhile I’m interacting with many of you, it is common for you to ask what it takes to become a police officer and what it is like to actually be one. In an effort to answer these questions I’m going to talk about the hiring process and the Police Academy at DeKalb P.D.

Like any other job, working for DeKalb P.D. starts with the application. Applying here is similar to the application for any job, except it asks for more details. On top of name, address and prior work history, applicants have to list any traffic citations or crimes they have been charged with. DeKalb P.D. even wants to know if you’ve committed any crimes where you haven’t been caught. Applicants also have to chronicle any previous drug use, debts and whether they’ve had debts turned over to collection agencies. Once the applicant submits their application, it gets assigned to a detective for a background investigation.

During the background process, applicants also have to take a physical fitness test. This test consists of push-ups, sit-ups, sit-and-reach, an obstacle course and a timed run.

After the background investigation the applicant must take a voice stress test (lie detector), undergo a psychiatric evaluation and have an interview with several supervisors. If the applicant fails any of these steps, or if anything is discovered to be missing, false or outside of departmental policy, the application is discarded.

If the applicant completes the application process, they are the offered a job and begin the Police Academy. The Academy is a boot camp-style environment where potential police officers are taught law, firearms qualification, emergency vehicle driving, defensive tactics and first aid. This process is 23 weeks long. Cadets have to pass 56 tests from various classes in these previous topics to become certified as a police officer.

After graduating the Academy there is little time for celebrating. New officers are assigned to one of DeKalb’s four precincts. There, they will spend the next nine weeks riding along with an experienced field training officer. This phase is a practical test where the new officer applies everything they’ve learned in the Academy. It is not uncommon for someone to go through the entire hiring process and Academy only to wash out during the live-action portion of their training.

Once the nine weeks of field training are over, the new officer is ready to operate on their own. Of course, this doesn’t mean the training has stopped. Every police officer must take yearly classes and firearms qualifications to maintain their certification.

I hope this kind of in-depth report will give you a better understanding of how your police department works, what it’s like to work here and maybe make you think about a career in law enforcement.

BUSTED! – On March 8, Officer J.C. Gaddis and the Tucker FIT team were on patrol in the area of the Stone Mountain Inn. While there, they located a vehicle that had been taken in an armed robbery in South Precinct. The two occupants of the vehicle were arrested. A gun and drugs were also found inside the vehicle.

HOLD YOUR FIRE – On March 10, Officer G.E. Snide responded to Oxbow Road in reference to someone firing a gun. While at the location, the officer heard the shots as well. His investigation led him to a residence where several gunfire calls had been reported in the past. He located and apprehended the person responsible, making an arrest for possession of crystal meth and false report of a crime.

QUICK WORK – On March 18, Officer C.J. Lee responded to an entering auto call at 7200 Tree Mountain Parkway. Upon arriving, the officer made contact with residents at the location who pointed out one of three suspects breaking into cars at the complex. This juvenile was arrested on the scene. The investigation identified the other two suspects whose arrests are pending.

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