2006-03-22 / Editorial

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JILL SCHMELZER Amherst Reporter

+ POLICE ACADEMY -As some of you may know, I have enrolled in the Amherst Police Department's Citizen Police Academy. During the past few weeks, my classmates and I have learned about the department, how it works, what officer training is like and what it's like to be an officer. I even went on a ride along, where I learned how a police officer spends his or her day. The ride along was filled with excitement and Adrenaline rushes, which made me not want to leave at the end of the day. But it was in this past Tuesday's class that I learned exactly what it takes to be a police officer. Lt. Charles Quinlin and officers Thomas Westbrook, Daniel Quinlin and Tracy Martin discussed a usual day as a police officer. They told some amusing stories, as well as some heart-wrenching calls they have attended. Toward the end of class, the officers passed around some very graphic and disturbing photographs. We had the opportunity to look at fatal accident scenes and suicides. I won't describe the photos, but I will say that it made me realize how lucky I am and how great a life I have. When the officers go to a call like the ones in the photos, they are often the people who have to tell the victim's family members that their loved one has died. I couldn't imagine having to tell someone's spouse that a husband or wife has just been killed in an accident. Martin said they have to separate their feelings from their work. They have to look at each call as evidence, rather than a person. It takes a special type of person to be able to do that. It also takes a strong person with compassion and sympathy. Westbrook said they often stay and help the family with whatever they need, whether it be turning off the stove or letting the dog out. So next time you're driving down the street and a police car passes you, remember these men and women are keeping Amherst residents safe.

 POLICE UNITY TOUR -Annually, police officers across the nation come together to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. They ride bicycles in a Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., pledging to raise $1,800 each. This year, two officers from the Amherst Police Department will extend their trip and ride their bicycles from Los Angeles, Calif., to New York City, then join the rest of their fellow officers and continue on to the memorial site. They are Detective Lt. Kevin Hoffman and Senior Investigator Dennis Dempsey. The monies raised for the memorial will be used to build a museum, which will honor fallen officers throughout the nation. Family members, friends and fellow officers will be able to go to the memorial and leave mementos and share stories about the heroes who have died in the line of duty. On the 30-day tour from Los Angeles, Hoffman and Dempsey, along with 16 other officers from the East and West coasts, will hold candlelight vigils in towns along the way to honor their fallen brothers and sisters. Any officer wishing to join Dempsey and Hoffman on the tour or to make a donation, should contact Hoffman. Make checks payable to "Police Unity Tour." Send to: Amherst Police Department, C/O Detective Lt. Kevin Hoffman, 500 John James Audubon Parkway, Amherst, N.Y. 14228. A benefit will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, March 24 at the International House of Pancakes, 4003 Maple Road, Amherst. All proceeds go to the memorial fund.

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