COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT – SAFETY FIRST
Public Safety Day conjured a mix of emotions as we anxiously awaited a real life look into the “not so pretty” side of our community. Fortunately, we were privileged to have some of Modesto and Stanislaus County’s finest men and women by our side as we dove into the world of law enforcement.
We started the morning with a tour of the Stanislaus County Jail. Just as you would upon arrest, we entered the Jail through the sally-port and began in intake, where deputies explained the booking process. After booking, we proceeded through the holding areas, where those waiting for booking or court appearances were detained. After seeing the short term holding, deputies led us through the rest of the jail. We saw single cells for the mentally ill or unstable inmates, 12-man cells for multiple inmates, the health facilities within the jail, and the rooftop recreation area. Deputies explained the different colored jumpsuits we saw, noting that the colors help them distinguish between rival gang members, mentally ill inmates, maximum level inmates, and the general population. This is necessary for both inmate and the Officer safety (though it was a little unnerving to see the maximum security stripes as we roamed the hall).
Our next stop was the Modesto Police Department. There two SWAT team members gave us a demonstration of the tools they used. These included: forced entry tools, a robot, a tank, and 60+ pound protective vests. We then met Officer Graves and partner K9 Officer Kai. Officer Graves shared what a vital team member that Kai is, as he is able to search for drugs and suspects faster and more effectively than officers. Not only that, but his mere presence often stops potentially high risk situations from getting out of hand. Classmates then participated in the Force Option Simulator to get a firsthand look at the split second decisions officers have to make under pressure. We wrapped up with a question and answer session with Sheriff Adam Christian, Modesto Fire Chief Sean Slamon and the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Chief Mike Wapnowski.
From the Modesto Police Department we went to the Public Safety Center where Sergeant Junqueiro gave us a tour of the facility. As we exited the facility into the sally-port we were given a rather loud, impromptu demonstration of what the Correctional Emergency Response Team does if a problem arises in the facility. This began with a flash bang to make sure they had our full attention. We then enjoyed lunch with Sheriff Christianson where we discussed issues such as Proposition 47 and Assembly Bill 109.
From the Safety Center we went to Juvenile Hall. I was pleased to learn that the population was down to around 50 juveniles in the past it was at or near capacity with around 100 more. They showed us their state-of-the-art kitchen and class rooms. Both places are used to help the inmates learn the skills they need to successfully integrate back into the “real world.”
Our last stop was the Fire Training Center. Battalion Chief Tim Tiejen gave us a description of how the fire departments in the city are stationed as well as the different types of vehicles at their disposal: the engine provides the water supply holding the hoses, pump and water tank, and the truck provides the “tool box” of the firefighter, housing ladders and rescue equipment. After our discussion, we were able to see one of the engines in action. We went out to the training structure, where firemen hooked up the hose to the water tank, and deployed water.
At the end of the day, I am certain, that the Leadership Modesto class has full confidence in the men and women that risk their lives daily in order to keep our community safe. As many are running from danger, these men and women will run toward it. A special thank you to all of those who took the time out to spend with our class, and thank you for your service!
By Natalie Nielsen, Modesto Chamber of Commerce Communications Assistant