Students practice officer felony stop safety, procedures

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Criminal justice sophomores James Castiano and Michael Kuhl practice a felony stop drill Sept. 14 in the parking garage on Loop Rd. A felony stop is performed when the suspect is considered armed and dangerous, has committed a burglary, kidnapping or other type of felony. V. Finster

Cadets act as officers, suspects in a simulated real-world situation.

By Rogelio Escamilla

A group of 22 students in the law enforcement training academy practiced a felony stop procedure in the original Loop Road parking garage Sept. 14.

This is a part of the tactical phase, which is Phase 3 of four phases in the program.

In Phase 3, students participate in simulations of real-world police encounters.

“Everything hands-on is done in Phase 3,” chief tactical Instructor M. C. Joseph said. “Not only do they do felony stops, they do searches, handcuffing and firing at the range.”

Two officers are required to perform a felony stop. One acts as the lead officer while the other acts as a cover officer, Cadet David Rico said.

“This is the most reliable method,” Rico said. “(The officer) is in control. It’s not about how fast you can do it; it’s about how safe you can do it.”

The two officers cover both sides of the vehicle, order all passengers out and face down on the ground, then an officer places handcuffs on the suspects.

Once one round is completed, the students switch roles. Every student will act as both an officer and a suspect.

“It gives you an insight on how a suspect would feel and react,” Rico said. “The officer has to give clear commands. This gives officers an idea of what suspects can hear and how to verbally command.”

After Phase 3 students enter Phase 4, the final phase in the training academy.

“We conduct two exit exams,” Rico said. “We have two hours to complete 250 questions.”

Students also learn about traffic and field sobriety in Phase 4, Joseph said.

After the academy, students have one more step before they can apply to be an officer.

“Their next step is to go take their state license test,” Joseph said. “When they pass that test, they are issued a state license, which means they can be an officer anywhere in the state of Texas.”

The exam is the Peace Office Licensing Exam, which is administered by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

Cadet James Castillano said he wants to see more young people participating in the program and becoming officers.

“It would be a pretty good future,” Castillano said. “You don’t have to work for the San Antonio Police Department to be on patrol, you can choose San Antonio Independent School District or Alamo Colleges and watch over kids. I think that is better.”

Castillano said that he wants to work for SAISD to push students to be better.

“I know where they come from and how they think,” Castillano said. “My parents pushed me, so I feel like I can push these kids to do better for themselves and their families.”


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