What life is like behind the badge

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Getting the badge

As difficult as being a policeman appears to be, just getting the uniform could be the most difficult part.

In order to be hired as a GPD officer, you pass a mile and a half run timed test, pass an obstacle course test, which includes scaling a 6-foot wall, walking a balance beam, jumping through a window and pulling a 160-pound dummy – all within a certain time limit.

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&uot;You also have to do 22 pushups and 25 sit-ups,&uot; Lovvorn said.

After you’re hired, you’re required to attend a police academy to get certification.

&uot;The academy lasts 12 weeks from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day,&uot; Lovvorn said. &uot;It’s a lot like the military; you get up at 4:30 every morning to do physical training. Within the first two weeks of the academy, they generally lose half of the class.&uot;

And the training doesn’t end with the academy diploma. The officers are required to take at least 12 hours of continuing education each year.

&uot;But we usually get more than that,&uot; Cofer said. &uot;We have to do firearms qualifications twice a year, and that doesn’t count toward the 12 hours.&uot;

He said the officers also have to be Gregor certified every year.

&uot;That’s being able to determine what somebody’s blood alcohol level is,&uot; he said. &uot;It doesn’t count as our continuing education either.&uot;

The continuing education courses include officer survival, special weapons and tactical training and investigation skills.

&uot;The department gives you the opportunity to get that training,&uot; Lovvorn said. &uot;The chief has to approve your training in order for the department to pay for it.&uot;

For the past two years, Lovvorn has been taking drug detection and narcotics investigation courses.

&uot;Two years ago, we had to dissemble a meth lab,&uot; he said. &uot;It was very dangerous because the substances they use in those labs are so volatile.&uot;

Meeting the mental challenge

One of the greatest hurdles a police officer has to get over is a mental one, Lovvorn said.

&uot;The mental part can’t be taught,&uot; he said. &uot;You have to be able to let this stuff go; some can do it, others can’t.

If you let it, it will eat you up inside.&uot;

One of the worst mentalities a police officer can get is that he isn’t making a difference.

&uot;You seem to arrest the same guy, over and over again,&uot; Lovvorn said. &uot;But you just have to do your part. If our officers don’t get hurt, and we arrest the bad guys, then we’ve done our job.&uot;

The GPD offers a broad range of services to our community.

In addition to the Patrol Division, which is made up of the officers who patrol the streets looking for lawbreakers or offering assistance to citizens in need, the GPD has the Investigations Division, which is made up of officers that investigate crimes, and a warrant officer who serves warrants on subjects who need to appear in court.

The GPD also has a Narcotics Division, which investigates drug-related cases and searches out drug dealers in our area; Canine Division, which includes a certified trainer and police dog that are used to assist officers in investigations or tracking escaped criminals; Housing Authority Division, which oversees and handles calls at area housing projects; and School Resource Division, which installs one officer per public school in the city to maintain safety.

The department also has a community resource officer, who acts as a liaison between the community and the police department.

All of these departments are under the guidance of veteran police chief Lonzo Ingram.

The department has 29 officers with arrest powers – that’s 3.9 officers per 1,000 residents, well above the national average of 2.4.