SPOKANE, Wash. - The current class at Spokane's law enforcement academy is just two weeks away from graduating as commissioned officers, but with a growing number of shootings targeting law enforcement in the last year, they are also well aware they are entering a trade where they may be targeted.
"My reaction is I need to train better and I need to train harder and just have more situational awareness, and also help my fellow officers in blue have that situational awareness as well," said Spokane Police recruit, Nicole Burbridge.
Burbridge is on the cusp of becoming a second generation Spokane Police officer, and says she is well aware of what a dangerous weekend it was for law enforcement. Learning how to enforce the law without breaking it, and learning how diffuse tense situations and get people the help they need is not easy. Now, recruits also have to learn how to avoid someone sneaking up behind them with a gun.
It is not just the recruits who have to learn these skills. In fact, the Spokane Police Department's veteran officers just went through in-service training that dealt strictly with avoiding ambushes.
"That same training also centered around not being paranoid," said Officer Art Dollard of the Spokane Police Department. "I mean we don't want our officers to be so paranoid that they are paralyzed in their ability to go out and do their job."
Police are not running scared, but say citizens could make their tense lives a little easier by listening for and following their commands even when we get pulled over for speeding.
"I would say not digging around in your pockets because that's going to raise suspicion," said Spokane Police recruit, Michael Brunner. "Maybe you're reaching for your documents, may be it's something else, and we obviously want to stay safe so we can continue doing our job."
Sometimes police have to ask people to take their hands out of their pockets when they are talking to you. The request may seem insulting, but the officers say it benefits that safety of for everyone involved and they appreciate your patience during these troubling times.