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 MCSO Citizens' Academy 
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Post Re: MCSO Citizens' Academy
This week we had a presentation on the Gun Permits and Registration Division. Their staff of 9 people are responsible for handgun purchase permits, concealed handgun permits, civil papers fees, sex offender registration, and non-criminal fingerprinting.

Mecklenburg County residents can apply for handgun purchase permits online. Applicants are checked through the state Division of Criminal Information (DCI) database. Applications peaked in FY 2009 at 16,751 and dropped off for a few years, but have increased significantly this year, with over 20,000 applicants since last July 1.

Applications for concealed handgun permits must be submitted in person (you have to schedule an appointment) and require completion of an approved firearms safety and training course.

There currently are 966 registered sex offenders in Mecklenburg County. More information is available on the Sheriff's Office Sex Offender page. You can search the statewide registry to see if any live near you and sign up for email notifications on the North Carolina Sex Offender page.

This office will also take your fingerprints for $10 if required by your employer or for other non-criminal needs.

We also learned about the budget for the Sheriff's Office. The budget for the year ending June 30, 2013 is $112.2 million. Most of that is for detention services. They expect income revenues of about $24.6, mostly from payments received for housing federal inmates at the jail. The difference (about $87.6) comes from the taxpayers. The Sheriff's Office currently has 1,280 employees, the largest number of any county agency other than DSS.

Then we went up to the roof of the courthouse parking deck and saw demonstrations from the motorcycle and K-9 units.

Two of the six members of the Motorcycle Unit talked about their unit and gave a demonstration of precision riding. (They didn't let us ride, however. :cry: )

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These aren't just experienced motorcycle riders, they have completed vigorous training by the National Park Police, and some have had further training to qualify them as certified trainers themselves.

They also participate and have done well in competitions, and were one of the few local units invited to assist in escorting the Presidential Motorcade.

Their jobs mostly are to administer evictions. The motorcycles are more economical for getting around the county that cars, although based on how shiny the bikes were, I'd think the polish budget might offset any operational cost savings.

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The motorcycles can be very dangerous, especially when motorists cut them off, which happens frequently. The deputies wear special outfits with extra padding and get to wear really cool looking boots.

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The final presentation was by the K-9 Unit.

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There are six German Shepherds in the unit plus one bloodhound available in reserve when needed. We saw two dogs in action.

Hope is a nine-year-old bloodhound, and she was made for tracking. Her slobber enhances the scent and her long ears help focus the scent towards he nose. She has the ability to discriminate scents from different people, primarily through the scent of shedded skin cells. We saw her sniff a hat and then head out directly to where the hat's owner was hiding.

We also saw one of the German Shepherds. Most of these are used for narcotics searches but can also track and help with the apprehension of offenders. They can track based on human scent but can't discriminate the scent of different people the way Hope can. Two of the German Shepherds in the unit are specifically trained to sniff out bombs.

We saw a demonstration by a dog named Major (if the Sheriff's web site is current, but I thought I heard them say his name was Bandit).

On command, Major/Bandit attacked another deputy and captured his arm padding. Major/Bandit looked fierce, but the dogs in the K-9 unit really aren't aggressive. The capture of the arm padding was a game, and getting the padding was his reward. Although they will bite and hold when commanded to, they otherwise don't try to harm people. Like the racking sound of a shotgun, the dog's bark is an attention getter and can encourage a quick surrender. The bad guy doesn't know it's play time.

But the K-9 Unit isn't all about dogs, it's about the partnership between the dogs and their human partners. They train together, work together, and even live together. Both the human and dog skills provide an invaluable service to the Sheriff's Office and the citizens of Mecklenburg County.


Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:38 pm
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Post Re: MCSO Citizens' Academy
Quote:
85% of this job is communication. -- Deputy with the Domestic Violence Division

We had quite a variety of topics this week.

First we learned about Field Operations, which includes the K-9 and motorcycle units that we saw last week. Field Operations has 90 deputies, 7 sergeants, 7 captains, and 1 major. Each deputy is assigned to one of 32 geographic service areas within Mecklenburg County.

Deputies who serve Civil Processes, serve 54 Types of Civil Processes , including domestic violence orders, civil judgement (to collect money), and evictions. They're more successful for some types than others.

Deputies also serve Criminal Processes, including orders for arrest and serving warrants.

When they have time, deputies drive two cars equipped with License Plate Recognition equipment around large parking lots and other areas in Mecklenburg County. The equipment captures license plate numbers and matches them to records for unpaid vehicle property taxes. Since last July, they have collected over $148,000 in delinquent taxes. Unfortunately, there are over $9,000,000 in outstanding unpaid vehicle taxes in the records.

The Transport Division transports inmates and others from jail to jail, to hospitals, or other locations. They frequently serve involuntary commitment orders and transport people to mental health facilities. We saw a demonstration of how they use shackles to control unruly or potentially unruly folks, using one of the more rowdy members of the Citizens' Academy class as the guinea pig.

The 8 specialized deputies in the Domestic Violence Division serve Domestic Violence Protective Orders, which basically are restraining orders issued by a judge and typically require the deputies to remove the defendant from their residence or whatever the judge includes in the orders. Defendants typically can take the clothes, toiletries, and their tools of their trade that they will need before they get their opportunity to go before the judge to tell their side of the story. Deputies may have to confiscate keys, firearms, or other items specified in the orders. They serve about 10 to 20 restraining orders daily.

We also learned about the Sheriff's Office Explorer Post. This is a division of the Boy Scouts of America, but includes girls as well as boys, and gives young adults age 14 to 20 an opportunity to learn about law enforcement as a potential career. Explorers participate in various community service projects.

Then we got to go outside and drive a golf cart around a curvy course outlined in traffic cones. We did it normal the first time, but the second time we wore goggles that simulated the vision distortion a person would have if under the influence of alcohol. The goggles are made by a company called Fatal Vision. Different goggles simulate various levels of intoxication. The ones I wore simulated a blood alcohol content of .12 to .15, which is almost twice the legal limit in North Carolina. (The traffic cones are very durable, as they were able to withstand quite a bit of abuse from members of our class.)

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Apparently I drive quite well as a simulated drunk, but I've never driven drunk for real and certainly never plan to.

The final presentation was on the Advanced Local Emergency response Team (ALERT), which is a multi-agency team designed to deal with major natural and man made disasters as well as acts of terrorism. Participants include Medic, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, Charlotte Fire Department, and Carolinas Health Care.

Each agency has primary functions. Those for the Sheriff's Office are perimeter security, evidence security and collection, and Disaster Mortuary Operations (DMORT), which involves removing dead bodies.

The 25 Sheriff's Office members of the unit receive lots and lots of training, much of it at federal facilities where federal agents and personnel from state and local law enforcement agencies from across the country receive the best training possible.

We heard about how easy it is to manufacture explosives and how destructive they can be. Instructions, many of them from al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, are easily available on the Internet.

The unit has various levels of hazardous materials (HAZ-MAT) protective wear. The image below shows Level C. In actual use, the deputy would have special booties over his shoes, and all seams would be secured with duct tape. Level B includes an oxygen tank, and Level A, which provides the highest level of protection and has breathing apparatus and a radio inside the suit.

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Finally, we saw the 54-foot command trailer, which has space for executive command staff and work space for various other staff. It also serves as a mobile arrest processing center and includes a lock up room.

Only one more session to go next week, and then graduation.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:50 pm
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Post Re: MCSO Citizens' Academy
On the final week of class, we heard about the Citizens' Academy Alumni Association. This organization gives graduates of the Sheriff's Office Citizen's Academy an opportunity to stay involved with the Sheriff's Office and to give back to the community. It is only open to folks who have completed the Citizen's Academy.

They are involved in a number of community events and programs, including:
- School programs to educate kids about the perils of DWI.
- Support for Hometown Heroes, which aims to make a difference in the lives of children with life threatening illnesses or injuries.
- An upcoming program to train and provide volunteers to work on inmate programs in the jails.
- Volunteer support for the 2013 National Sheriffs' Association Conference to be held in Charlotte in June.

Then we heard a presentation on self defense.

People fall into three categories:

97% are sheep and will munch on grass despite things happening around them.

2% are wolves. We saw quite a few examples of extreme wolves, cold hearted people and monsters.

1% are shepherds. They are law enforcement, both on-duty and off-duty, military, or other citizens who are willing to "put it on the line" to stop the wolves. The shepherds' staffs are their guns.

But guns are a very controversial subject these days, so I'll just end here.


Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:26 pm
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Post Re: MCSO Citizens' Academy
Follow them on facebook:

Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office (Somebody was taking pictures at the Citizens' Academy!)

Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office Citizen Academy Alumni Association


Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:29 pm
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Post Re: MCSO Citizens' Academy
Tonight was graduation. Sheriff Chipp Bailey and the Citizens' Academy staff made us feel a part of the Sheriff's Office by giving us Unit Coins. Also called Challenge Coins. If a member of the unit challenges you, and you can't produce your coin, you have to buy the drinks! It has the Vision Statement of the Sheriff's Office: "Being recognized as a leading and professional organization committed to customer service and improving the quality of life in our community." (The coin looks a lot better than I can make it look in my amateur photographs.)

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It's been a great eleven weeks. The members of the Sheriff's Office clearly take pride in the work they do for the citizens of Mecklenburg County, and we've come to understand and appreciate that. We're sorry to see it end.

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Each graduate made a statement about their experience, and everyone said it was well worth the time spent during the eleven Tuesdays. I didn't take notes and can't speak for others. I hope some of them add their thoughts here.


Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:13 pm
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