From Wales To Washington - Junior Police Journal

From Wales To Washington - Junior Police Journal


Tuesday 17th Jul 2018


12 Jul 2018

FROM Wales to Washington, and taking orders from sheriffs not sergeants, a group of volunteer police cadets are about to have the experience of a lifetime with an American police service. Four teenagers from Newtown cadets will fly to the US this week to spend nine days with the Southern Maryland Junior Police Academy. They will keep a diary of their trip, which you can follow here.

DAY 1: From Newtown to Maryland (via Reykjavik)
And so it begins. We left Newtown Police Station for the airport on time at 2am. We were all tired while waiting for the flight, but excited at what was to come. We had a stop-off at Iceland, where it was raining, and Ffion and Cheyenne were pulled up for random security checks, which meant they had to run to catch the flight.
Everybody tried to sleep while they could, and managed to get some rest on the second flight, before walking off the plane to see long queues to get into America. We were met by our host Andre and headed to our hotel for the night. On the journey we noticed there were more trees than at home, little livestock and more pronounced churches.
After more hours than you could shake a stick at, we were all checked into our rooms by 9.55pm (2.55am GMT). The hospitality in the hotel restaurant was amazing, with the staff getting quite excited by our accents.
It appears the local community is very proud of its sea food, and Andre, our host, was determined that we were going to try as much of the sea food speciality dishes as possible. We had a variety of mains after a seafood-heavy starter. Then all fed, it was off to bed ready for an 8am start before meeting our hosts at 9am to start the day’s adventure.
Leaving Newtown

Leaving Newtown

Set to go

Set to go

Waiting at the airport

Waiting at the airport

Calvert County sheriff

Calvert County sheriff

Sightseeing

Sightseeing

Meeting the sheriff

Meeting the sheriff

DAY 2: Sightseeing and a dramatic ride-along
The day started at 8am with breakfast at McDonalds, before meeting with our hosts to visit Washington DC. It was a lovely day there, and very warm. We saw the White House, World War Two memorial, police memorial, and the Abraham Lincoln memorial. All the American police cadets were lovely, and were great about giving us information about American policing and what they do within their cadets.
On arrival back at Calvert County we were introduced to the sheriff Mike Evans, and Cadet Ffion Jones presented him with a letter of thanks from our Chief Constable, Mark Collins. She thanked him in both Welsh and English for the opportunities that his kind hospitality has given us.
After dinner, we returned to the sheriff’s office to take part in a ride-along with officers from the local police service. Cadet Rebecca Roberts said: “I had an absolutely fantastic time on the ride-along. The officer I was with was incredibly nice. We managed to pull a few people over and issue them with warnings for speeding. But by far the most memorable event of the evening was a call to a suicidal person. On arrival, the officer spoke to them, handcuffed them and gave them a search for sharps. We then took them to hospital to be checked. It was such a real and daunting experience, and really gave me an insight as to how sudden and unpredictable some calls can be. It also showed me how incredibly skilled officers must be to be able to adapt and respond to each call in the way they are required to.”
PC Andy Buckley added that the ride-along gave him the chance to discuss the differences between British and American policing. He said: “The more officers I talk to, the more I believe that the difference is superficial. We have different laws to enforce, different equipment and procedures to do it with, yet the incidents and problems that we are called to are eerily similar, no matter which side of the Atlantic you are from.”
DAY 3: Moving in to the Junior Police Academy
Today we were invited to visit North Beach Volunteer Fire Department company one. The volunteers provide a valuable service in providing fire and rescue, and emergency medical services to the local community.
They have the ability to deal with a wide variety of emergency situations. This ranges from house fires, vehicle crashes and medical issues. While we were there, the ambulance was deployed to support a patient who lived a few hundred metres from the station.
Following the visit, the cadets were transferred to the Junior Police Academy. While at the academy they will have a packed schedule ranging from fitness training to classroom based learning.
They will have a 5am wake-up call each day, followed by a day of inputs including the use of force, gang culture and arrest procedures.
North Beach Volunteer Fire Dept

North Beach Volunteer Fire Dept

Arriving at the academy

Arriving at the academy

Midnight drills

Midnight drills

Press ups as punishment

Press ups as punishment

DAY 4: A tough start but the team is strong
The cadets are at the Junior Police Academy and have had their phones taken away, so updates are coming through from PC Andy Buckley.
Midnight drill: The cadets were woken with horns and sirens for a two-and-a-half hour PT and drill outside in the warm night air. Running and core exercises including the dreaded flutter kicks and planks. Getting down in the grass, working hard, answering with “yes sir, no sir” – high discipline or a forfeit is made!
Made it back to bed at 2.30am, only to be woken at 5am for a morning PT drill exercise. The weather is in our favour, but without much sleep or morning sustenance it was tough. We had a stretch warm up, with a challenging run, followed by more exercises and drill. Happy to say we all fought through and remained strong. Go Team Wales … let’s do breakfast!
Our rooms are inspected by staff to ensure all the cadets are looking after their room. They are instilling self-discipline and fortitude.
DAYS 5 AND 6: Putting theory into practice
We thought we would get a full night’s sleep again, but we were woken at 3am being told someone had Doritos in their room. We were all lined up outside, and thought we would have more PT, but it turned out to be a prank and we were all given ice cream! That was a bit strange, but showed our trainers have got our backs and want us to enjoy.
We’ve been doing scenarios in an old abandoned hospital, which was quite spooky, and everyone was saying it was haunted in there. We were issued with belts, handcuffs and plastic guns, which were quite weighty, and all the staff went into different rooms to act out a domestic, a break-in, a robbery and things like that.
Cadet Rebecca said that after a bad start, when she and her partner were ‘shot’ by their suspect in the first scenario and her partner was ‘stabbed’ in the second, they had more success in the final room.
“This time we had our heads switched on,” she said. “We went into two rooms and cleared them – it was going really well. We went into the third room and cleared all the closets apart from one. As soon as my partner opened the door, my eyes flicked up and I saw a gun. Something in my mind was saying ‘this is wrong, something’s up’. There was a blanket folded over the rack and down to the floor. I adjusted my angle and I saw a part of the man’s leg.
"I commanded him to come out without touching the gun, not to put his hands up, and to come out of the closet. This is when I personally made a mistake, and I realised straight away what I had done. I tried to correct myself but I was too late. I asked him to go to the wall and I had my gun trained on him, but I asked him to go to the right hand side wall which was by the door, when I should have asked him to go to the left hand wall and covered the door. So he managed to escape, but none of us got shot so we were ok.
"There are still things to be learned, but I would never have thought that I would be doing the things I have done today a couple of days ago. I wouldn’t have had any confidence to do it.”
We then went on to traffic, where we learned how to approach a vehicle, what to look for, how to talk to the people you have pulled over etc. It was such a good learning experience, and definitely something we will remember.
Lining up for inspection

Lining up for inspection

Traffic checks

Traffic checks

Time for reflection

Time for reflection

5am running

5am running

Experiencing a baseball game

Experiencing a baseball game

DAY 7: Time for reflection
On the last but one day, the cadets have reflected on their experiences so far:
Ffion – We’ve had a very good time so far, but it has been challenging. We are up at 5am every morning to do some running and PT, along with sometimes getting woken earlier. Through the week, I’ve learned that teamwork is everything and you can’t get through this alone. We’ve made so many new friends, which has been lovely, and they’ve all helped me to get through the week.
Becky – this week so far has been the best and the worst. I’ve been put through hell – 2am push-ups, running, tears, pain, being shouted at and punished. I miss home so much. I am weak, but I am strong. I am injured, but I am still moving. I have been alone, I have made a family. I can’t wait to get home, but I am happy to be here.
Cheyenne – So this week has been really tough, but it has been really good. The only part I haven’t really enjoyed is the PT at 5am, which is a mile-and-a-half run, and I’m so proud of myself for completing it. The scenarios were really good - we all went into a building and did various things, such as a suicide case, a domestic case, and a loud music case looking at antisocial behaviour. We also learned how to pull over a vehicle and how to handle a drunk person, and later on in the day we did an obstacle course, where I fell on the first obstacle face-first, but it was fun and I managed to get through the whole thing. I am in pain – my muscles hurt a lot – but I am getting through this and can’t wait to get home and have a nice warm shower!
During the day, we visited ATF, ICE and the US Secret Service, where we were given a talk by a Special Agent who started his career as a police cadet.
Following this, we went to watch our first baseball game, which was a great experience … then the bus broke down and we couldn’t get back to camp! Thankfully the state troopers who had lent us the first one had a spare and that came to rescue us.
We had our regular evening drill, and Cadet Rebecca took on the role of squad leader, issuing Cadet Tomos with some firm instructions!
DAY 8: Graduation and time to say goodbye
The cadets all graduated from the Junior Police Academy, and Tomos gave a speech during the ceremony.
He said: “Each day we were put through physical and mental anguish, like we have never experienced before. But quickly we adapted, overcame, and worked better as a team. We pushed ourselves further than we imagined and we proved ourselves to be wrong; in a simple term we were resilient. We all have personally changed and it is not just limited to our team work. We pushed ourselves to the limit so often that we don’t even remotely look at ourselves in the same light anymore. I’m glad I took this opportunity, and you can probably tell I’m not from here. The idea to come to America for this Academy both scared and exited me initially. I didn’t know what to expect, and the culture shock was gruelling. I’m sure my fellow Welsh friends would agree to that as well. But this program was a life altering decision, and I cannot repeat that enough.”
Rebecca said – my best memory of the week was the scenarios. All the positive comments that me and my partner Sarah received, and proving that all our learning and hard work had paid off. The word ‘flawless’ really inspired me. The worst part was when we were sat down in the hall having dinner on the last day and looking around knowing it was the last time we would see these people. That it was the last time I’d see this family.
Ffion said – we left the academy and we all graduated, which is a great feeling. It goes to show that all of our hard work really does pay off. I also had a certificate for my positive attitude, so that made me feel good. We will soon be making our way to the airport and I am ready for home. One of my best memories would be making new friends, along with all the nicknames we were given. It was such a fantastic opportunity. I must admit, it was hard getting up at 5am, but the hardest was when we had to go running at midnight. All I wanted to do was go home, but it was a great learning experience.
Rebecca and Cheyenne with a trainer

Rebecca and Cheyenne with a trainer

Ffion with her positive attitue certificate

Ffion with her positive attitue certificate

PC Andy Buckley and SC Natalie Reyneke

PC Andy Buckley and SC Natalie Reyneke