Safety fair gives firsthand experience of police work
by Glenn Moore
Oct 03, 2013 | 1760 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Police host Safety Fair
Officer Carlos Ramirez watches as Pablo Chavez tries on SWAT team gear, including a 40mm launcher, at the Tracy Police Department safety fair on Saturday, Sept. 28.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Sonya Griffin gripped the gun and leveled it at the suspect across the street. The man pulled a revolver from behind his back, aiming it at Griffin, who fired a burst of shots, just missing the man as he shot back at her.

Officer Miguel Contreras paused the simulation and started it again: “You’re staying there until you stop him.”

The Forced Option Simulator was one of the exhibits open to the community as Tracy Police Department had its third annual Safety Fair on Saturday, Sept. 28, in the City Hall parking lot.

The fair gave residents a chance to meet officers and learn about law enforcement.

For Griffin, who tried out the simulator the department uses to help train officers in when to use lethal force, the experience was unusual. The Tracy resident had never held a gun before.

“Wow, it’s pretty impressive,” Griffin said after bringing down the suspect on her third try. “It gave me a different perspective. They have a pretty hard job. You always have to be on guard.”

Other visitors to the safety fair sat in patrol cars and tried on some of the gear used by police. Tracy Police Department Chief Gary Hampton said he wanted community members to have an opportunity to stand in an officer’s shoes.

“We are trying to demystify law enforcement a little bit and give a better perspective on the job,” Hampton said.

Guides gave tours of the police department, 1000 Civic Center Drive, and a motorcycle and SWAT equipment were displayed.

A crowd gathered around a BearCat armored truck acquired by the SWAT team in April, waiting to climb inside.

K-9 officers Erik Speaks and Marcio Reis gave demonstrations with their dogs as an officer in a padded suit pretended to be a suspect and took a bite from the dogs.

The police chief acknowledged that most contact between residents and officers is during traffic stops and when police are enforcing the law.

“Rarely do police and the community get to interact positively.” Hampton said. “The community gets to see that law enforcement officers are their neighbors and families.”

Children had their fingerprints taken and learned about power line safety from a Pacific Gas & Electricity Co. display.

Representatives of Tracy Fire Department inspected car seats and gave new seats to some low-income families.

Max Contreras, who visited the safety fair with his two daughters, Marianna and Molly, stopped to look at the motorcycle used by traffic Sgt. Kami Ysit.

“I think it’s great,” Contreras said. “It’s good being able to meet the officers and see the demonstrations. It brings us together with the officers as a community.”

Hampton plans to have two safety fairs in 2014, the first in May.

• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or gmoore@tracypress.com.

 
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