Dispatches from the Citizen’s Police Academy

Participants in the 2017 Gulfport Citizens’ Police Academy listen to Operations Commander Mary Farrand as she overviews the major components of traffic stop work flows, including drivers stopped for suspected DUI. 

Debbie Wolfe will report from each session of the 2017 Gulfport Citizen’s Police Academy. This is part eight of 11.

Workflows for traffic stops and the field training program of the Gulfport Police Department were the focus of the March 9 Citizens’ Police Academy meeting at law enforcement headquarters inside City Hall, 2401 53rd St. S.

Once a state-certified police officer is hired by Gulfport, an additional two-week training program familiarizes them with 246 separate written directives, some of which can be 13 pages in length, said Operations Commander Mary Farrand.

“I do the scheduling myself and I jam as much material into that time period that I can,” she said.

New local officer training includes qualifying on the range with firearms, being fitted for uniforms and body armor that are tailored to each individual, safe handling of cases involving blood-borne pathogens, certification for the use of databases, and orientation to key geographic locations such as the county jail and courthouse.

Community Resource Officer Zack Mills, who specializes in traffic cases, had these tips for participants if they are ever involved in a minor accident:
“No matter what, whenever you’re involved in a crash and especially when you’re not at fault, tell the law enforcement officer you want a report done so you have something on paper,” he said. “Because insurance companies do use these reports whether it’s for or against you.

“And, after the adrenalin wears off in a couple of hours or a day,” you may need documentation to seek medical attention for resulting pain.

The well-worn traffic ticket case belonging to Community Resource Office Zack Mills contains a quick reference Florida regulations booklet printed by the American Automobile Association (AAA). While conducting field sobriety exercises on suspected DUI drivers, Mills stands on one foot for the entire time he explains the balance exercise he wants people to perform to provide a demonstration of how it’s done. “In 11 years, I’ve arrested about 200 people for DUI,” said Mills. “Hopefully, I’ve saved someone’s life.”

From left, Silvia Gustaffson asks a question during the seminar while her husband, John Gustaffson and fellow participant Ann Hays listen. 


Gulfport Police Department Operations Commander Mary Farrand explains the ideal patrol car placement during routine traffic stops. Typically, law enforcement officers park at a slight angle behind a vehicle that has just been pulled over to give them protection from moving traffic that is close as they approach and speak to the driver. In addition, if needed, an officer can retreat to their driver’s door area and crouch down behind the engine block of their patrol car if use of a firearm becomes part of the stop, she said.



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