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Earlier this year, Trent and I attended the Boys & Girls Club Annual Gala Auction that benefited the Motel Kids Outreach program in Anaheim. As we were walking around the silent auction, one item caught my eye, and I had to place my bid. In the last 30 seconds of the auction, and a 3rd bid down of $70, I won:
A detailed tour of the Santa Ana Police Administration Facility including the Emergency Dispatch Center, Firearms Training Center, Driver Training Simulator, and Jail Facility. The tour will also include lunch with the Chief of Police at the Police Department’s Code 7 Cafe.
We were supposed to be at the police station at 10:30, but did not get there until 10:45 after we got mis-directed. I’m thinking that not knowing where the jail was may be a good thing! The Santa Ana Police Department provides law enforcement services to the largest city (by population) in Orange County. In Santa Ana, there is approximately 1 officer for every 1,000 residents. The Santa Ana PD has been providing services to their city for 130 years, but have only been in the current building for 14 years.
Our tour started out in administration and we got to see where all of the different departments were located. We were able to see the Emergency Dispatch Center where all 9-1-1 calls come in for the city. Over 1,200 calls are fielded each day. Everything was completely automated and the professionals had 4 computer screens in front of them. They were able to see where every officer was located on the street and the technology was really impressive!
Next stop, Driver Training Simulator! This complex simulator looked like a gigantic video game from Dave & Busters. It is a lot more cost effective and safer to train officers in this manner than on the street.
This advanced simulator is designed to teach judgement, decision-making, and critical thinking skills for operating an emergency vehicle during routine, code-3, and pursuit conditions.
There were some very graphic photos on the wall of crashes involving police vehicles. It is a reminder that safety is always the number one priority.
We headed over to the Joseph S. Boyd Firearms Training Center which is a complete indoor shooting facility. The facility was named after Rangemaster, Joseph S. Boyd, who was tragically killed while on duty on January 28, 1998. He was attempting to make safe an illegally converted machine pistol. During the test firing, the weapon had a stoppage, and while attempting to make the weapon safe, the weapon had a malfunction and unexpectedly fired uncontrollably in full auto.
This training center is a complete indoor shooting facility, featuring the latest in range technology. The Rangemaster told us everyone uses their own gun as opposed to lasers, which you may find in other police facilities. They recognize that gun battles in the real world tend to happen within ten feet and officers are trained to react in close proximity. The room is very insulated which keeps the noise levels down. Officers are required to have intense training here every 2 months.
You can see in the photo to the left, a 35 degree ramp behind the targets. This is made of a large steel plate covered with chewed up rubber tires which catches the bullets and prevents them from ricocheting around the room.
We had lunch with Paul Walters, Chief of Police and Russ Davis, Jail Administrator, at the Code 7 Cafe. I cannot believe everything we have seen was in the same building! The cafeteria and jail food were both provided by Aramark, the same company that serves food at Angels Stadium – not too shabby! The jail kitchen was HUGE. They provide meals to 18 jail facilities in California!
When lunch was over, it was time to go to the Slammer! The Santa Ana PD seemed to have a very smooth and quick booking process compared to other facilities, but we were not there at 11PM to test that theory out! It was really fascinating to get this tour from the “outside.” There were so many pictures that I wanted to take, but thought it was best to keep my camera in my pocket since these people were actually getting booked.. grrr.
The Santa Ana Jail is connected by an underground tunnel to the Orange County Jail that is located directly across the street. If I ever had to go to the slammer, I would REALLY hope to stay in the Santa Ana Jail! Inmates here are treated fairly and are not cuffed in the booking room. If they can behave and act civil, then they have the “freedom” to sit and wait on their own. There are holding cells for inmates who are misbehaving and even a room that had a restraint chair! There are phones all around the room and the arrested civilians are free to make all the local calls they would like.
One thing you don’t want, and maybe the most humiliating thing that could happen, is the suspicion that you are hiding a weapon, which is then proceeded by a strip search. We also walked by a chair that acts like a metal detector. Inmates may be asked to sit in the chair which will scan their body cavities for any weapons. Of course, I had to take a seat. I may be the only one to ever sit in this chair with a smile on my face!
The jail is staffed by 127 personnel. We were able to walk into one of the Cell Block Modules when the area was on lock-down. There are 8 modules and each one contains 32 cells which can hold up to 64 inmates. When it was not “lock-down,” they are allowed to roam freely through out their module. For the 97% of the population that complies with the rules, there are generally very few problems. Classes are even offered throughout the day, including computer classes to those who would like to participate. For the 3% who do not want to follow the rules, there is a much stricter part of the jail on a separate floor. These inmates are on lock-down 23 hours out of the day and are allowed no contact with other inmates.
Overall, this was an incredible experience and I am really glad I had the chance to visit the jail and learn more about the criminal justice system… especially since I was able to keep MY clothes on – ha!
Next up for me… I think I’ll do a Ride-Along… stay tuned!