Santa Monica Community Police Academy – Graduation!

Weeks 1 & 2 // Week 3 // Week 4 // Week 5 // Week 6 // Week 7 // Week 8 // Week 9 // Week 10 // Week 11 // Ride Along // Harbor Patrol

Well, I did it. I graduated from the Santa Monica Community Police Academy. (I say that as though it was a difficult thing to do, it’s not. You literally just show up and have fun.) I am not actually a cop now despite what the graphic above says, but I’m sure you knew that already since 1) becoming a police officer is a really hard thing that can’t actually be done in such a short amount of time and 2) I’ve claimed to be both Annie Oakley and Rambo on this blog so I pretty much assume you guys know when I’m making ridiculous statements for comedy’s sake.

The Santa Monica Police Department threw us a formal graduation ceremony at Casa Del Mar which is a gorgeous hotel right on the beach. There was food and drinks and mingling, and I got a chance to chat with a few people that I’d been hoping to see.

(Photo credit: Lauralee Asch / Santa Monica Police Department)

Suzie started us off and, as she always does, kept everything on track and running smoothly. The Chief (she’s my new my BFF, remember?) got up and said many wonderful things. There were two class participants who spoke after the Chief and guess what?? I was one of them! (Spoiler alert: I was dorky)

Certificates were handed out and photos were taken. It was a wonderful ceremony.

(Photo credit: Lauralee Asch / Santa Monica Police Department)

Here’s a video I made of some of the ceremony. (It’s the first video I’ve ever made so set your expectations accordingly.) You can hear the Chief speak, see me get my certificate, and hear my speech.

In my speech I talked about different things, a few of which I want to mention here. One of them was about the employees of the Santa Monica Police Department, both officers and civilians. In my speech I said that there wasn’t anyone I met that I wouldn’t at minimum want to go out with for nachos and margaritas. (I was craving nachos at the time but feel free to substitute any snack or beverage you want.) Some people because they were so awesome, others because I still have so many questions about what they taught me and want to know more, and one or two because I’d really like to have a respectful, civilized discussion about why something they said was just plain wrong. I’m not bringing it up to dunk on anyone, quite the opposite actually. Even the people I disagreed with seemed like people I wouldn’t mind spending more minutes of my life with. Even if we just argued. 😉

There were so many things I learned over the course of this program, some a total surprise and others not so much. What I mean by that is, I already knew being a police officer was hard. But know I feel like I understand that statement a lot more. (I’ll never fully ‘get’ it, not being an actual officer.) Again and again in class we heard how officers are constantly expecting the worst at all times. I understand that and of course I fully support anything like that if it means officers going home to their families at night. I’m not in any way trying to dispute that mind set. I’m just trying to say that it sounds absolutely miserable to me and I don’t understand why any sane person would put themselves in that situation. Add that to what is already a ‘thankless job’ in a society where actions by some police officers reflect on all who wear the badge, whether they support those actions or not. I have to conclude that police officers as a group are either masochists, or they are men and women who are extremely devoted to their jobs and believe very much in what they are doing and its critical role in our society. If I had to choose which category the officers I interacted with fall into, it would definitely be the later.

If somebody was dumb enough to let me be a cop it would go something like this:

Because I am sort of obnoxious I bothered a certain police officer both in person and via email with questions about the police horses. (C’mon, can you blame me? Police Horsies!!!) He was lovely and answered my questions and told me stories so I would understand a bit more of what it was like to be assigned to the Mounted Unit and work with the horses.

  • Santa Monica has 5 horses in total. Burt, Barney, Iron Man, Sammy, and a new horse whose name I don’t know.
  • Burt is the “alpha” horse of the herd.
  • Iron Man has the best name of the group. (Duh!)
  • Spider just retired from the force and is off to Hollywood to become the next Mr. Ed. (He’s going to shoot a commercial or something like that.)
  • The horses are used during the Twilight Concert Series and other special events in Santa Monica.
  • When they’re not working the horses are out on a ranch out in Moorpark.
  • Like police dogs, the horses get top quality care and training
  • It takes 1-2 years of training before a horse is ready for police duty.
  • It takes about a year of training before a police officer is ready for horse duty.
  • Mounted officers train with the horses once a month.
  • Lots of law enforcement agencies around here have horses, so like weapons or SWAT training, they’ll often train together.
  • I asked if being assigned to the mounted unit was more like the K-9s where there is a special connection with the animal or if the horses were just another mode of transportation to the officer, kind of like a motorcycle that poops. In response I was shown a photo of one of the horses with a silly hat on his head so I am interpreting that to mean it’s closer to the former than the later.

Please enjoy these photos I took at/around the police station and didn’t get a chance to use in any of my other posts…

There were other random things I learned throughout this experience that didn’t really fit in any post.

  • The cop/donut jokes are old, knock it off. It was never about sugary desserts anyway, it’s about access to hot coffee 24 hours a day. It came up more than once during class, different officers every time, so I think it’s something they really want people to know. 😉
  • There are rare circumstances where it’s not only acceptable, but actually commendable to get drunk at work! (Probably not the lesson I was supposed to take away from that class but I already knew drunk driving was bad… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
  • It is next to impossible to surreptitiously take pictures of police officers. No really, I could have a gallery exhibit called “Cops Side-Eyeing My Camera” after this class!
  • Like a real life episode of Santa Clarita Diet, LA Sheriffs are super quick to bad-mouth the SMPD. HAHAHA, from what I could tell it was all jealousy over nicer equipment and not any type of character judgement.

You should really follow the Santa Monica Police Department on social media because sometimes they post pictures like this one:

…which is one of the cutest things I have ever seen! I have no idea who took the photo, but it wasn’t me. And I’m not telling you which account I stole it from because I want you to click and explore:

SMPD on Twitter
SMPD Chief of Police on Twitter
SMPD on Instagram
SMPD on Facebook

There was one thing that was said in class that I thought was extremely powerful. The photo below is pretty bad (blame the photographer, oh wait…) but I love it because, to me at least, it is the visual representation of what was said.

“The most important piece of equipment police carry with them is a pen.”

Wow. That’s profound, and not something I expected to hear. I love it.

The Santa Monica Community Police Academy was such an amazing experience, I can’t recommend it enough. If you live, work, or go to school in Santa Monica you should sign up. If you live elsewhere you should contact your local Police Department and see what kind of community programs they offer. There were so many great things I learned in this program, but my one big complaint is that there wasn’t enough of it. The classes we had on various subjects weren’t long enough, and some things weren’t part of the curriculum at all. (Is there an ‘advanced’ community academy? Can I play with the doggies again? Can I meet the horsies? Will I finally get to realize my life-long dream of playing with a police siren?)

I want to formally thank the Santa Monica Police Department for letting me participate in the program, and for having a program like this in the first place. I’ve never lived in a place where I could be walking down the street and have a police officer wave hello at me as he drove by. (Actual thing that happened to me today.) It’s a nice feeling. I should also formally thank the SMPD for not tossing me in jail at any point, and yes, I’d have totally deserved it. You see, at the beginning of all of this I signed a waiver that said “I agree that I will not engage in any photographing, video recording, or other reproduction of any activity conducted by the Community Police Academy Program.”

Uh… oops?

Nope, can’t pull off ignorance, not even gonna try. I broke every one of those rules and I did so with full knowledge and enthusiasm. But unless someone is waiting for me to hit “publish” on this post before I get tossed in the slammer, (send Officer Cutie-Pie* if you’re going to arrest me?) I think I’m in the clear.

*(Not his real name.) (Duh.)

By the end of class I’d gained a few new friends, a ton of knowledge, and a lot of cool swag.

Me and my palm trees

3 thoughts on “Santa Monica Community Police Academy – Graduation!

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