CPD week 8: Not Guilty!

The Covington News - - CRIME -

Tes­ti­fy­ing in court can be a stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence even if you’re just a wit­ness. At week eight of the Por­terdale Po­lice Depart­ment (PPD) Cit­i­zens Po­lice Academy (CPA), we learned that it can also be ex­tremely hum­bling.

Last week, the class split up into teams and re­sponded to a mock crime scene with gun­shots, drugs, shell cas­ings and two dead peo­ple. It was our task to se­cure the crime scene, process the ev­i­dence and pre­pare a case strong enough to get a con­vic­tion on the per­pe­tra­tor of the crime.

As we have been learn­ing since the be­gin­ning of Fe­bru­ary, polic­ing is hard work. Cops re­spond to calls, usu­ally see­ing peo­ple at their very worst. They mit­i­gate dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions. And as im­por­tant as any­thing they do, they pre- pare cases for court and try to get the bad guys con­victed. That may be the hard­est job of all.

For our mock tri­als, PPD Chief Ja­son Cripps in­vited New­ton County Mag­is­trate and Pro­bate Judge Me­lanie Bell, Por­terdale Mu­nic­i­pal Court Judge Robert Pic­car­reto, and Cony­ers at­tor­ney Wendi Armstrong. Watch­ing le­gal pro­fes­sion­als ply their trade has al­ways been fas­ci­nat­ing to me. Watch­ing the CPA mock tri­als was just as much fun. Once I got out of the wit­ness chair, that is.

For our case, Judge Pic­car­reto as­sumed the role of the prose­cu­tor, Ms. Armstrong was the de­fense at­tor­ney and Judge Bell was on the bench. Pros­e­cu­tors and cops are on the same team, so Judge Pic­car­reto led me through the ev­i­dence with­out too much stress. We had our evi- dence. We had se­cured our search war­rants. We had done our foren­sics. Our ducks were neatly lined up in a row. This was go­ing to be a slam dunk.

Then it was the de­fense’s turn. There is a rea­son it’s called cross ex­am­i­na­tion. I was sit­ting in the wit­ness chair con­fi­dent in the case I had helped to pre­pare. I knew that we had a con­vic­tion. Then Ms. Armstrong started ques­tion­ing me.

She metic­u­lously parsed every word I said. I knew what I was talking about, or at least I thought I did. I didn’t even con­vince me. My team­mates fared no bet­ter un­der cross ex­am­i­na­tion and we lost out case. But we learned a lot. One thing we learned is that while we took many pictures of the crime scene, if no­body can see them, they’re no good. We for­got to print our pho­tos. It was a rookie mis­take- we won’t make it again.

For the next trial, Judge Bell as­sumed the role as the prose­cu­tor with Judge Pic­car­reto tak­ing his spot on the bench. Judge Bell led her team through the ev­i­dence and they re­sponded very well. Even Ms. Armstrong’s cross ex­am­i­na­tion could not shake their story and they got a con­vic­tion.

For the fi­nal trial, Judge Bell and Ms. Armstrong switched sides. Both were re­ally good at their jobs, but the trial ended with­out a con­vic­tion. That was a good thing. It seems that our “de­fen­dant”- the one con­victed by group two, was in­no­cent. That prob­a­bly taught us as much as any­thing we’ve learned about be­ing a cop for the last eight weeks. Things are usu­ally not what they seem to be.

It turned out that our hys­ter­i­cal wit­ness, the daugh­ter of one of the vic­tims, was a killer and a drug dealer. It was a tale dreamed up by Chief Cripps and Cor­po­ral Charles Cook that was as con­vo­luted and con­fus­ing as any you’d see on tele­vi­sion. And we learned from it.

This was an­other great ses­sion of the CPA. I’m in class with a re­ally good group of peo­ple and we’ve learned a lot since this started. It’s hard to be­lieve that we only have one more week.

Next week, we’re go­ing to hear from the New­ton County coroner, and have sim­u­lated judg­men­tal shoot­ing sce­nar­ios. Again, it will by in­ter­est­ing and ed­u­ca­tional. Stay tuned.


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