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cops

KN, p. 195 “The Blue Flu”

 

I feel lousy. If I didn’t have to get out of bed to eat, I wouldn’t move. The body aches remind me of what it felt like to be back doing the physical part of basic training at the Police Academy. Everything hurts. Everywhere. Between the coughing, the sneezing, and the sweating, my days are filled with junk. And not the good kind.

 

I am buried under a pile of tissues.

 

Sheila has disappeared again. She brings me chicken soup, drops off a new box of tissues and leaves. She’s sleeping in the guest room and has Hammett with her, so it’s pretty quiet in here. I miss them both. Yeah, I know they’re just in the next room, but it’s not the same.

 

Hammett growled when he heard me honking the first day, so I’m pretty sure he’s away for the duration. I don’t want Sheila to catch this, so she should stay away. Still. A hug and a woof would be good. I admit it. I’m a wimp.

 

At least I’m well enough to read a little and work on the Notebook. Seriously, it’s been four days since I got dizzy and almost fell off a ladder outside. Who knew that 102 fever would knock out a big guy like me? If I was on active duty, I wouldn’t have the strength to hold a gun steady, and it wouldn’t be safe to put me out on the streets. Can you imagine sneezing in the middle of taking a shot? EVERYONE would run for cover. I might shoot myself in the foot if I ever actually had the strength to pull the trigger. I definitely wouldn’t be fit for roll call until the coughing and sneezing stopped.

 

It got me to thinking about the Blue Flu – the pretend flu we hear about every once in a while. The kind of flu that gets rumored about when a contract negotiation hits a snag over in NYC or in one of the other larger communities in the country.

 

Here’s a little history.

 

It all started in Boston, back in 1919. A full 80 percent of Boston police went off the job, leaving the city unprotected for several days. Unions were on the rise and the cops decided that there was no other way to get the boss’ attention. They wanted better working conditions and more pay. But, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge disagreed with the concept of unions in general and the right in particular of police officers to strike. He called out the militia, and famously declared, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime.” Coolidge used this get-tough policy to leverage a spot as Vice-President on the ticket to the White House in the following election.

 

Instead of viewing the police as helpers of the community, for a while at least, Boston cops and unions in general were in disfavor. It became illegal for law enforcement officers anywhere to strike.

 

It wasn’t until fifty years later that big city police officers were back in the news for a job action. In the early 1970s, the NYC Police Department was under scrutiny for corruption, and at first, the 19th precinct was targeted more than the others by the Knapp Commission. The Police Commissioner at the time, Patrick Murphy, sought to clean house before the investigations went any further and started transferring officers as well as demoting some. But the PBA (the Police Benevolent Association) was upset at the way they thought Knapp was attacking the entire force with what the PBA called “unfounded accusations.” More than 60 of the 90 day-shift officers in that precinct sat down on the job for four hours and would not go out on patrol.  First strike ever in the history of the NYC police department. My boss told me that both good and bad fallout rippled across the country.

 

Then, just a few months later, while parts of the NYC Police Department were still under investigation, salaries were up for review. Officers faced a tough reception on the streets and any shift could be deadly. While never an easy job, the level of violence toward cops had gone up a notch and cops wanted to be compensated for that danger. 20,000 officers of the NYC police department called in sick for six days in a row. The mayor at the time, John Lindsay, threatened to fire the entire police force if they didn’t get back to work. Public outcry was fierce, with many in support of the theory of pay raises, but taxes were already high and new money would burst the budget. The union leadership got the patrolmen back on the job, but it took years for goodwill between the public and cops and the mayor to be restored.

 

Cops, firefighters, and hospital workers are sometimes faced with horrendous working conditions in metropolitan settings and while they know what they signed up for, buying the groceries and paying the rent gets in the way of that warm and fuzzy feeling towards management. Full-on Blue Flu sickouts are discouraged when tensions run high, so some unions prefer the work slowdown method. The idea behind it is that the resulting traffic stops and mountains of paperwork will convince the other side to come up with solutions to the issues at hand. It isn’t always about the $$$.

 

Blue Flu has been a last resort job action. Many would say that it should never be used at all.

 

If you’d like to read more about the history behind the “Blue Flu,” click on the links below.  🙂

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/blue-flu-cops-strike-december-1970-january-1971-chapter-384-article-1.911985

 

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/01/06/a-short-history-of-police-protest#.qaqzR8evc

 

Check out a more recent use of Blue Flu as a job action, in September, 2016: http://www.fox10tv.com/story/33261705/blue-flu-hits-prichard-police-department

 

 

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KN, p. 194 “Training for An Garda Siochana, the Irish National Police”

 

Thinking of moving to Ireland?

And you think joining the Garda might be a good idea?

And you think you’re in great physical shape?

 

Consider this: before any candidate can be included in the final group of applicants, he/she must pass a test for physical endurance, known as The Physical Competence Test, in addition to the Shuttle Test. As I mentioned in the previous article, “An Garda Siochana, the Irish National Police,” there were recently over 60,000 applicants, so competition is tough. To give you an idea of the requirements, the Garda website provides this chart for the Shuttle (also called Beep test) so that you can compare your capabilities to the expected norms:

 

MINIMUM Standards for the Shuttle Test (running back and forth in a gym – 20 meters (about 65 feet) in each direction – the levels indicating how many round trips you should make within a set time)

Age Males Females
18-25yrs Level 8.8 Level 7.6
26-35yrs Level 8.1 Level 6.6

 

MINIMUM Standards for the ‘Sit Up’ Test (one minute) 

Age Males Females
18-25yrs 35 30
26-35yrs 32 27

 

MINIMUM Standards for the ‘Push Up’ Test (no time restriction)

Age Males Females
18-25yrs 25 20
26-35yrs 22 18

 

Physical Competence Tests –

This part of the physical test demonstrates whether the candidate is capable of chasing after a suspect, and then, once the suspect is caught, struggle with him/her in order to make the arrest. Because, trust me, if you can’t do this part of the test, you won’t make it as a street cop.

 

Part 1 – the Obstacle Course

You have three minutes and 20 seconds to get around the course three times. Go!

After a running start,

  1. Weave through cones
  2. Walk along a balance beam
  3. Lift a car wheel and carry it 3 meters (about 9 feet)
  4. Go underneath a barrier
  5. Jump over a mat
  6. Drag a 45kg (about 100 pounds) mannequin 2 meters (about 6 feet)
  7. Run up and down stairs
  8. Climb over a gate
  9. Sprint 10 meters (about 30 feet)

Slower than 3:20? You fail.

 

Part 2 – the Push-Pull Machine Test

What’s the maximum force you can muster? This test indicates how strong you are when you’re battling against a suspect who doesn’t want to be caught – after you’ve chased him/her for several minutes through the alleys.

  1. Stand on platform, gripping handlebars at chest height, with feet apart and one foot in front of the other
  2. Push and pull the handlebars through the required stroke continuously for 20 secs using entire body to push and pull as hard as you can.
  3. The force you exert is measured and recorded on the computer system


A video detailing the Physical Competence Test can be found here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXo3roYoCUw&feature=youtu.be

 

Assessment Process

Get past this pre-screening stage and there are a number of tests to eliminate the possibility of the unqualified becoming a Garda Trainee. If you pass each of the interviews, psych evaluations, personality questionnaire, language proficiency assessment, report writing tasks, written tests, medical exam, and physical tests, (and anything else the powers-that-be deem necessary) and rank high enough on the list of qualified applicants, you might become a Garda trainee. If so, you would attend the Garda college to complete the first 34 weeks of your training. After that, you will have both supervised and unsupervised field training, with periodic rigorous testing along the way. It will take about two years to finish, but at the end, you will attain a BA in Applied Policing.

Garda College

The Garda College is the national center for police training, development and education within the Irish State. The coursework is divided into two major sections, Operational Training and Crime Training.

 

Operational Training consists partly of: 

Driver Training

Candidates learn to drive the official vehicles and based on operation needs, may also learn to drive vans, 4×4 vehicles, motorcycles, and H.G.V.s

Firearms Training

After initial firearms training, if hired, the candidates permitted to carry  firearms must take refresher firearms training three times a year. They are checked for Range Safety, Weapon Safety and accuracy. They also receive tactical training, as well as how to use non-lethal weapons such a tasers.

 

Constitutional, Human Rights & Diversity Office

Candidates become familiar with the proper way to handle incidents that may involve human rights, diversity as well as any possible constitutional violations.

  

Communications and Information Technology Training

Candidates study:

      A.F.I.S. (Automated Fingerprint Identification System)

      A.V.P.L.S. Automatic Vehicle Personnel Location System)

      C.A.D. (Computer Aided Dispatch)

      CCTV

      I.C.C.S. (Integrated Communications Control System)

      MOS computer Program skills

  

Rannóg na Gaeilge

If needed, candidates learn and become proficient in the Irish language.

 

Crime Training consists of:

Foundation Training

Students learn in small groups with realistic policing re-enactments and must use the group discussions to solve the problems, just as would be done in actual policing.

 

During this basic training, candidates would:

 

  • Improve overall knowledge of the crimes committed in their jurisdictions.
  • Gain practical skills to manage crime and policing incidents.
  • Learn to police a diverse bilingual community

Develop skills needed for traffic issues (checkpoints, drink/drug driving etc.)

  • Train in Garda station duties, including prisoner management
  • Learn practical skills with retractable baton, hinge handcuffs, pepper spray, and self-defense tactics

 

Crime Training

Crime Training used to be known as the Detective Training School. These days it incorporates the Garda Technical Bureau, the Forensic Science Laboratory, and even some outside agencies. Also studied: Basic Fire and Arson, Money Laundering, Financial Crime, and Drug Awareness.

 

Additional course work or refresher courses are available for the police after they have served in the field for three years (or if the local station has a need for it) in: Fingerprints, Photography, Forensics, Ballistics, Documents, Mapping, and Forensic Law.   

 

Investigative Training

Special Investigative Training is handled here for Family Liaison Officers as well as for the Road Security Criminal Interdiction Awareness Program.

 

Interview Training

The Garda Síochana Interview Model has four different levels, ranging from basic questions of witnesses, to serious and complex investigations, including those involving sex crimes. 

 

After a fairly rigorous combination of classwork, supervised and unsupervised field work, along with continuous testing during the two years, graduating candidates are able to work in Community Policing, Traffic Control, Public Order, Detective Duties, investigating Organized Crime, Fraud and Drugs Offenses.

 

 

“Crime prevention is everybody’s business,” a quote from the Garda site, is a motto they promote to all the candidates, as well as the community at large.

 

How does this training compare with that of your local law enforcement agency?

 

 

*All photos from www.garda.ie

 

 

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KN, p. 193 “An Garda Siochana, the Irish National Police”

An Garda Síochána

Ever wonder what it would be like to be an Irish cop? Not a cop of Irish heritage living in the USA, but a cop who lives and works in Ireland. Is the job more glamorous or grittier than the U.S. version? Take a look at some of the aspects of the job as well as the requirements for becoming a candidate for the two-year training program for the Garda.

 

An Garda Síochána is the national police service of Ireland. Back in the 1920s, Ireland had just become a free state and needed a strong national police force. Almost 100 years later, it has over 14,000 members, has offices in every county, and is now considered to be a community based law enforcement agency.

 

A Commissioner heads the agency, assisted by Deputy and Assistant Commissioners. Ireland is divided into six geographical regions for the Garda’s purposes, with 28 divisions, each headed by a Chief Superintendent. Superintendents oversee the 96 districts scattered throughout the divisions. Inspectors and Sergeants conduct investigations, with the help of the Garda trainees and civilian employees.

 

A statement on the Garda website reveals current philosophy: “Modern policing entails much more than crime fighting. Reducing the fear of crime and working in partnership with communities are the keys to making a positive difference and improving quality of life for all citizens.”

‘Reducing the fear of crime’ is a terrific goal and one that many hope is reflected in the Garda’s daily community interactions. Very little is worse for a civilian than being afraid to leave one’s house because of terrorism, or of local hooligans taking over the streets. We, as citizens, want to feel safe in our own homes and neighborhoods, wherever we live in the world. Bravo to the Garda and the community for making that a stated objective as they work to reduce crime, both locally and across Ireland.

 

What else does the Garda do?

In 2016, over 200 million Euros was earmarked to provide upgrades to the Garda training and equipment. That investment was made so that they could “attract, develop and retain the best people.”  It’s a tough world we live in, and we all need hi-tech support and well-trained personnel to catch the bad guys and help the community.

 

Cyber crime is here to stay and the Garda is working to create groups throughout the country that can address the issues involved, with specially trained officers at work.

 

Drugs, organized crime, sex crimes, human trafficking – all require a different type of scrutiny, investigation, and partnerships with other agencies and departments than ever before. Intensive training in these areas is supplied during Garda college.

 

An effort to address the problems of the victims is reflected as well in the establishment of Victim Service Offices.

 

Crime prevention and detection is foremost in every law enforcement agency, but the Garda also works to improve road safety, reduce local “anti-social behavior,” and maintain Irish national security. Part of their strategy is to be more visible in the communities they serve.

 

They might also:

 

  • Investigate road fatalities
  • Investigate suicides
  • Testify in court
  • Notify next of kin of deaths or injuries
  • Write reports of investigations
  • Provide protection for dignitaries
    How
    many people applied?

    When the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform in Ireland opened up applications to the public in September 2016, LOTS of people applied. The Garda website even has updates on how many forms have been processed out of the many thousands received. According to data on the site, during the first two months of 2017, over 63,000 applications had been reviewed for their suitability to continue in the vetting process.

 

What does the vetting process entail?

The initial application is filed online by most applicants and eligibility requirements must be met before moving to the next level of screening.

 

Candidates must:

 

  • Be between 18 and 35 years old
  • Have successfully completed the Irish Leaving Certificate (similar to the U.S. High School Degree)
  • Be proficient in two languages (one of which must be Irish or English)
  • Be a resident

 

Sounds reasonable, although I would have trouble with the two-language requirement. I just don’t have the ear for languages, but I do know that it helps to have that second language in many parts of the U.S.

 

The candidates must also demonstrate good character, be certified that they are healthy, of sound mind, and be physically fit to do the job. With the many thousands of candidates, competition is fierce and only the top applicants will move on for the interviews and other assessments.

 

What’s the pay scale?

The yearly pay for a rookie cop is close to 24,000 Euros, with an additional 4,600 Euros for housing. On March 7, 2017, the rate of exchange was 1 Euro=1.06 U.S. dollar. The Garda candidates have no choice of assignment, so the housing allowance is an incentive to get qualified applicants to apply even if the assignment might be to an expensive big city. The Commissioner has the right to place the successful candidates anywhere within Ireland.

 

On this side of the pond, law enforcement pay scales might not be broken down so visibly, but we know that the bigger cities offer more money to their officers to adjust for the steeper cost of living. After 20 years of service, members of the Garda can make 50,000 Euros, which includes the same housing allowance. There is a possibility for overtime in some areas, but as everywhere else in the world, sleepy little villages never seem to have as much crime as the big cities.

 

Next up:
Physical Competency Test for pre-entry testing plus information about the training program itself.

 

*Photo credits and quotes:  www.garda.ie

Visit them for more information about An Garda Siochana.

 

 

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