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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Visiting the State Police Headquarters

As many of you know I write mysteries and a lot of my characters are law enforcement officials.  As a mystery writer, I belong to my local chapter of Sisters in Crime and for our summer meeting some of our group was lucky enough to visit the Virginia State Police Academy.

Assistant Training Officer Jeff Baker sacrificed several hours of his weekend to give us information about the Academy and its training program and to give us a tour of the facilities.  I found Jeff to be extremely knowlegdeable, friendly, professional and the epitome of what I expect a law enforcement officer to be.  I think Jeff's rank is a Major, but I didn't write it down and I'm just going from memory.  So I hope I'm neither promoting nor demoting him.

The classroom is structured in an theater style with tiered seating.  We got to sit in the desks that the actual trainees occupy from Mondy - Friday for the approximately nine months of training that each person receives.  Each trainee will log more than 1700 hours of classroom and practical experience before graduation and will live at the academy during their training period.  After the trainees have been on campus for awhile they are allowed to go off campus for weekends, but must return by 9pm Sunday night.  Lights are out at 10 pm. every night.  Jeff's haircut is typical of what male trainees have.  Women trainees are expected to have either short hair or hair pulled back in a neat manner.
Here are two of my Sisters in Crime cohorts relaxing in the trainees' chairs.  I'm sure the trainees don't get to relax.  Their day is all work.

Jeff explained that the current class had been in session since October of 2010 and started out with 82 members.  The graduating class will hopefully graduate 62 new Virginia State Troopers.  Reasons for not graduating vary from low academic scores to not adjusting to the structure and anything in between.   About 70% of the troopers have a college education and a lot are ex-military or officers in local police departments who want to be a State Trooper.

After graduation, officers will spend approximately 6-8 weeks with a senior officer in real life on the job situations.  Jeff said he'd done a little of everything in his career.  The troopers take care of all of Virignia highways and interstates.  They are involved in anything from delivering babies, herding cattle that have escaped their fences to plane crashes, domestic calls, terrorism (the Pentagon on 9/11) and even murder.  You name it and the State Police can do it. 

This is the main stairway in the Academy.  It's made out of marble and beautiful.  Trainees keep this building that is their home spotless and the staircase is no exception.  However, they are not allowed to walk up this main staircase until they have graduated. We were a lot luckier and got to go up it to see the State Police museum and living quarters.

This is a bed in the museum, but as I understand it, it isn't unlike the austere bedrooms that trainees occupy for those long 9 months.  Although the trainees have moved into the computer age, it wasn't all that long ago that typewriters like this were used in the trainees' rooms.  I believe desks very much like this one are part of the trainee's bedroom.  Very no-frills. 

There were displays of various officer uniforms used through the years.

As well as vintage motorcycles used by Virginia Troopers.

Weapons were also on display.  Troopers are accomplished shots and have won numerous awards for their accuracy.

There was also a display of law enforcement patches. 

Here are some of the members of the Central Virginia Sisters in Crime who were lucky enough to spend part of their day learning more about our State Troopers, the training that that go through to keep us safe and the academy that teaches them. 

I believe my writing has been enriched by this tour, and I certainly thank Corinne Geller, Public Information Officer and Jeff Baker for this great tour. 



josiekitten said...

Looks like a fascinating day Kat! Hope it inspires you with your writing.

snoopydog said...

My word, you do get around! Sounds like a really interesting visit. Have a good weeek. Ros

Gregory John said...

When you met him, in 2011, I believe he was already a Lieutenant and I think he still is that rank.