CPA: Week 6

Week 6 of the La Crosse Police Department Citizens’ Police Academy started with a presentation from Officer Dale Gerbig. Officer Gerbig talked about the training and certification involved in becoming a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). DREs are an important resource for the department, because drugged subjects will often refuse disclose the type of drug they have taken, and some may not even be able to tell. DREs utilize these skills to help determine which types of drugs a subject may be under.

Next, Officer Gerbig discussed how to execute a proper Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). He reviewed the steps involved in the three main SFSTs – walking a straight line, standing on one foot, and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). As we learned, people can develop a tolerance to alcohol and/or drugs. Because of this, they may be able to “fake” walking the straight line or standing on one foot, but they are not able to fake HGN. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test is when an officer asks a person to follow a pen or finger with the eyes. When the eyes reach their maximum distance to the right or left, the eyeball will involuntarily jerk under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This reaction is impossible to control, so this test is a clear determination of a subject being under the influence.

To experience these tests, each participant was able to try walking a straight line and standing on one foot with and without the use of “drunk goggles”. It was truly eye-opening to see how coordination, balance, and judgement are affected by the simulated drunkenness that the “drunk goggles” provided.

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For the final portion of class, Lieutenant Dan Kloss provided a presentation on the different types of drugs, how they affects the human body, and the problems they cause in our City as a whole.

Stay tuned for a recap of tomorrow’s class when we participate in simulated traffic stop scenarios and learn about Emergency Vehicle Operation and Control training (EVOC).


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