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Hilltop residents role play as police officers
To shoot or not to shoot was the question Hilltop residents faced while role playing as a police officer during, “The ABC’s of CPD and CFD,” on Dec. 1.
The program was coordinated by Lisa Boggs, and her son Justin Boggs, of the South Ogden Street Blockwatch.
Napoleon Bell, community relations commissioner for the city of Columbus, said the program was designed six years ago to provide insight on what police officers and firefighters face every day.
More than 50 audience members had an opportunity to participate in role playing exercises.
Given a rubber gun, volunteers were forced to make split-second decisions during plausible scenerios, like an armed person leaving a bank that had been robbed.
In each situation the role player assumed a stance and ordered the robber to halt.
“We just had three officers shot,” said Deputy Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, after the first three participants.
Blackwell said the action the volunteers took was similar to what is shown on television and in movies.
“But that isn’t the way it is in real life,” he said. “The robber doesn’t wait to be told to freeze. He’d just shoot.”
In another scenario, a man emerged from a bank and the role player ordered him to turn around and put his hands up. When she saw a weapon, she ordered him to drop the gun.
Blackwell gave her an A-plus and explained the officers tweaked the role playing situation and the person emerging from the bank was an investigator.
In addition to role playing, officers took time to answer questions.
“When can a resident use force?” was the first question.
Blackwell said, according to the law, residents can use weapons to defend their home and defend themself.
He also cautioned when a culprit is shot, he is not blown across the room as depicted on television.
“He doesn’t stop,” Blackwell said. “It takes 15 seconds or so for the body to shut down. If he has an automatic weapon, he can squeeze the trigger and get off several shots before he falls.”
Several residents mentioned gunshots are common in their neighborhoods.
Blackwell encouraged residents to call the police when they hear shots. Officers may have heard the gunshots and are wondering where they came from, but the residents know the location and should call. He advised people to get a good description of the suspect if possible.
Christmas tree fires
Columus Division of Fire Lieutenant Dave Sawyer, who participated in the police scenarios, showed a video of a decorated Christmas tree catching fire and destroying a room.
The room was consumed with fire in less than 45 seconds.
Sawyer said cords on strings of lights have a five-year life span before they become frayed or brittle and should be replaced.
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