Changing Gears

March 16, 2012 was my last driving column in the Vancouver Sun, and while the reasons for ceasing the column were many, I listed the need to spend more time with my family as my main motivator.  There are simply too many roles to fill and too few hours to fill them in.

A reader sent me an email yesterday and asked if I regretted the decision to stop writing for the paper, to which I replied,

“Not at all.”

Sure, I’ve had ideas for articles and drivers still make me crazy with their seemingly complete lack of road safety and traffic awareness, but it’s been liberating to have a few extra hours a week to do other stuff. It helps that it’s been Spring Break and I managed to get some time off – from everything; work, writing, other distractions.  I’ve spent quality time with my hubby and children.  I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors enjoying the recent stretch of beautiful weather. I’ve been focused on recharging.

And it’s been glorious.

If 17 years of police work have taught me anything, it’s that police officers need quality time away from the job to keep themselves balanced.

Officers can be committed/loyal to their department and still take time to ensure their own well-being. In fact, I’d suggest ensuring your own well-being be a priority, because if you are unable to look after yourself how can you be expected to look after anyone else, let alone ‘serve and protect’?

Another reason for stopping the driving column was my other writing was suffering – this blog was simply not getting the care it so badly needs.  My loyalty remains here, with these various forms of social media (blogging and Twitter), in an effort to build on relationships between the police department and the public we serve.

Now that I’ve managed to rein in writing to a more manageable level, I expect to be blogging again on a more regular basis.

Don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to it!





Today’s Twitter “Ride-Along”

Today, I will be bringing Twitter followers along on a ‘ride-along’ during my shift at work.

If you are interested in joining us, click through the Twitter link up at the top of the banner on the right hand side of the page.

Now it’s time to go get ready.


Posted in A Day in the Life by Sandra. 5 Comments

Paying it forward

It’s January, I know, but this Christmas video sent to me this morning serves as a reminder of how we act today will have a ripple effect on the rest of our lives.


The speaker is Bob Welsh, a retired Ohio State Trooper.


Benefits of Training

Ecole Polytechnique.  Columbine.  Red Lake Senior High.  The Amish School. Virginia Tech.

These are only some of the school shootings that have resulted in nationwide changes to how law enforcement trains for an ‘active shooter‘.

During training, officers are armed with simunition (little paint bullets fired through the officer’s own gun) and go into a building or an area to find and stop the ‘shooter’.   A loud audio recording of gunshots, screaming and chaos increases the intensity, and the best scenarios utilize actors to portray the injured and the dead.

The training is realistic and stressful.

It’s one thing to think you can hunt down a killer, but it’s an entirely different thing to go into an unfamiliar building, step over the widening pool of blood spreading around a dead student and continue past those crying and begging for help even as you hear more gunshots in the next hallway.

This is all done to condition officers to better respond when someone is actively shooting and killing people.  It’s not pretty, it’s not for the faint of heart, and it is so, so necessary.  This sort of training is some of the best, and is an extremely important component of an officer’s mental conditioning.

So when we responded to a stabbing at a Vancouver high school last week, where multiple suspects were supposedly still at large, we utilized this training.  The goal was to enter the school and ensure the safety of students and staff, to apprehend the suspects if they were located, and to clear the school of any other related hazards.

PSD Hondo and I were a part of the second team to enter the school, which was locked down in a Code Red (where staff and students lock their doors, draw the blinds and stay away from windows and doors…another action after Columbine).  It was eerie to be searching a completely silent building while knowing there were hundreds of students and dozens of staff locked within its walls.

There were no sounds from the classrooms, no machinery noise from the woodworking or metal shops, and, with the exception of the two police search pods, no movement.

It became clear how frightening the situation must have been for the students as we slowly made our way through the halls.  At first glance, several of the classrooms appeared vacant and it was not until we entered that we realized many classrooms were full of students huddled against walls and hiding behind desks, student who slowly raised raised their heads or their hands in response to our announcement that the police were there.

The auditorium was empty, but there were backpacks, books and binders scattered along a number of seats.  I wondered where the students were as our footfalls echoed across the wooden stage.  The sound was hollow, loud and sort of creepy.  I knew the students were somewhere close by, but they were so quiet.

Then, when we cleared the gym, it was obvious a vigorous class had been interrupted. Boys gym bags, runners and sweatpants lined one wall, while girls satchels, ballet flats and jeans lined another.  There had to be at least three dozen kids somewhere, but where were they?  

We eventually located them, safe and all together with the exception of four boys.  Somehow, the four boys had been separated from the main group and were huddled together in the complete darkness of a little nook.  It would have unnerved me, a police officer, to be stuck in the spot they found themselves.  I can only imagine how frightened they must have been with no locked door between them and whomever the police were searching for, and they were clearly relieved when we found them and reunited them with their class.

The impressive thing was how amazingly calm the teachers were, which is a testament to how much they care about their students.  They had a job to do and they did it.  Kudos to them.  I can only hope my kids teachers have the same strength (and I believe they do…)

Clearing a school takes time, especially when it is a very large one.  Two and half hours after we arrived, we finally called the school clear.

Our training payed forward with dividends and was proof we need to continue and constantly improve what we do to be ready for the inevitable situations we will face.


“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”

– George Washington


“Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.”

– Miguel de Cervantes




German Shepherds in a British Pub

This video from a 1986 BBC show is making the rounds.  I love the humour and the intensity of the three dogs for something as simple as a spray of soda water.

They look at the soda canister the same way my dog looks at bad guys…


(and sorry…I’ve no idea what language the subtitles are in…)