UAPD Community Day recap

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UAPD Community Day recap

Andrew Littlejohn | @Andrewlittlej19, Contributing Writer

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The University of Alabama Police Department (UAPD) hosted a two-session event Friday, Aug. 30 at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the UAPD headquarters at 1110 Jackson Ave, which each lasted an hour and a half. Although this event was geared toward the UA community, only seven people that were not police showed up to the 12 p.m. session. 

Lieutenant Daniel Pate said UAPD Police Chief John Hooks was inspired by a conference he attended in Bakersville, California, to host UAPD’s first Community Day. 

The tour started inside the headquarters. There were Insomnia cookies provided along with apple juice and water. Pate then went over in detail what would happen during the tour, which started off with two demonstrations. 

First, field training officer Wayne Moss, the head of the K9 unit, showed the dogs’ capabilities for detecting threats. There are a total of 6 dogs in the unit and currently five active K9s. Moss said the sixth dog has yet to graduate but will join the police force in December. These dogs are deployed at every big event, such as Bid Day, Alabama football games and basketball games. 

“When I first started here we had two of us running dogs,” Moss said. “Now we’re up to six. And I need more than that, just with the expansion with what we are doing and covering throughout the year. A lot of departments are shrinking the amount of explosive dogs.”

All of the dogs used by UAPD are labradors, with the exception of one, which is a porter-lab mix. Moss said this is because of the large crowds that the dogs encounter, and if they were to bite somebody, they have a softer bite than other breeds typically used by police departments.

Moss said the dogs have 21 base odors that they are trained to smell and locate. Recently, UAPD added a 22nd base odor to some of their K9 units to account for bullets and bullet casings. Officer John Turner said some of their dogs were used at the Parker 301 shooting a few weeks ago to track down aforementioned bullet casings. 

Moss then gave an example of how sensitive the dogs’ noses are to smell. 

“When you’re smelling beef stew, you smell beef stew,” Moss said. “But when a dog walks in, it smells the corn, beans and meat – each individual odor coming out of that pot.” 

When a K9 gets a smell of one of the 22 odors they are trained to detect, Moss said the dogs are determined to find its source. 

“It could literally drag you to the car,” Moss said. “And there ain’t nothing any of us can do to any of our dogs if that’s what they’re doing. They’re gonna hunker down and give all they got. They will tear up toenails, pads and all trying to get to it.” 

In the parking lot behind the precinct, head of traffic divisions Sgt. Mark Grimes led a motorcycle demonstration in the “Iron Cross” which is police talk for a four-way intersection. 

Pate then showed the department’s equipment, such as protective suits and weapons, as well as the three new Desert Patrol Vehicles (DPV) which they received from an army surplus program called the 1033 program. They also allowed guests to ascend the UAPD tower, which allows officers to see over crowds. 

In the final stretch of the tour, guests went back inside the precinct to watch a taser demonstration. Afterward, guests got to see the equipment the UAPD have to combat any and all challenges that are thrown at them. This included devices to detect radioactive material, which Turner said are deployed at many University of Alabama events, and gear to combat potential riots. The end of the tour entailed the rest of the police headquarters and the offices of chief officers. 

Though the event only had seven total guests who were not members of the media, some students expressed interest after the fact. 

Though the event was previewed in The Crimson White and in UA News, Max Hall, a senior majoring in communicative disorders, said he had no idea what UAPD Community Day was or that UAPD was hosting an event.  

“I definitely would have gone,” said Sophia Grillo, a freshman majoring in finance, when shown the video of the taser demonstration. “That looks so cool. Oh my gosh. I didn’t hear about it anywhere. Next time I’ll be there!” 

Officer Daniel Mosley, who’s in charge of public relations for the force, said he will definitely consider changing the weekend from Labor Day weekend to a different one for next year.