One of the things I hope to accomplish with this monthly column is pull back the curtain and help folks understand how the DeKalb Police Department functions. To that end, let’s talk about the place every officer is assigned after they graduate the Police Academy: the Uniform Division. This is the largest division and also considered to be the backbone of the department. That’s because it handles the department’s primary mission of responding to 911 calls and patrolling the streets. Even officers who have moved into specialized positions typically move back to uniform, at least for a while, when they get promoted.
When an officer graduates from the Police Academy, they will be assigned to one of the four precincts. These are North-Central, Tucker, South and East. The city of Tucker shares territory with North-Central and Tucker Precincts.
Once the new officer arrives at the precinct, they spend the next nine weeks in “field training”. This means that they ride along with a veteran Field Training Officer (FTO). At first the FTO does most of the work and the new officer observes. As the training progresses, the new officer takes over more and more responsibility, until they are finally ready to work alone. It isn’t even really accurate to say anyone works alone. Police work is truly a team effort where backup is only a radio call away and senior officers and supervisors are always available to help with situations where the correct decision isn’t always clear.
Working in the uniform division, you really never know what your next call is going to be. Quite a few of the calls that we answer are alarm calls and traffic accidents. Most of the time these calls are pretty mundane. However, you never know when a traffic accident will have life-threatening injuries or when the alarm you’re responding to will be a burglary in progress. No one outside of public safety can truly appreciate the roller coaster ride of going from dangerous situations to routine calls that officers experience just about every day.
After an officer has worked in uniform for a couple years, they are able to apply for more specialized positions. These include criminal investigations, traffic specialty and others. Next month, I’ll take you behind the scenes of our Criminal Investigation Division, a unit near and dear to me because it is the path that I chose to pursue after my first five years working in uniform.
On April 12, we took a report where the victim said a car had been stolen from his residence on Green Bark Circle. The vehicle was spotted four days later with a female suspect driving. On May 10, the victim called us again to say he caught a female crawling through the window of his house. Turns out it was the same woman. Officers arrested her and charged her with burglary.
On April 29, officers responded to an armed robbery on Chartley Drive where the victim had gone to the incident location to purchase an iPhone 7, which they had seen advertised on the website “Offer Up”. Upon arriving, the victim was robbed at gunpoint. Detectives immediately went online, found the ad and set up a meeting to purchase the phone. When the suspect arrived, he was arrested after a short chase.
On May 14, DeKalb Police responded to a home invasion just outside the City of Tucker on North Indian Creek Drive. A cell phone was among the items stolen. Detectives tracked the phone by its transmitter. When they checked the area out, they located a house with a vehicle parked there that matched a description of the car the suspects were driving. Detectives knocked on the door and spoke with the homeowner, who helped them make an arrest in the case.