This year's Chula Vista citizens’ police academy is off and running.
So far, participants have learned about the administration side of the department, firearms and safety, crime scene investigations, been involved in patrol pursuits and defense tactics and seen a K-9 demonstration, among other things.
Last week, Agent David Oyos taught students about patrol operations and educated them on Internet crime.
Within patrol operations each day, an officer’s shift begins with roll call. This includes an equipment check out, assignment of beats, upcoming events, bulletins, debrief of previous incidents and training.
“In a perfect world, roll call works every day,” Oyos said. “But it doesn’t always work out that way.”
Oyos also discussed how calls for service work.
Priority one requires an immediate call for response, meaning there’s the potential for death or serious injury. While priority two calls include things such as 911 hang ups, prowlers and shot heard. The priority list goes to four, which is the lowest importance.
“Because we don’t have a ton of officers out on the street right now, we put one officer in every car, but that means we send two cars out (to a call),” Oyos said.
Oyos said when an officer is dispatched to call, he or she must first identify the type of crime that occurred, then take witness statements, conduct enforcement, collect evidence and write a report.
“The first thing we need to determine is was there a crime committed,” Oyos said. “If there’s no crime, there’s very little we can do for you.”
Academy participant Zach Ambrose said he’s enjoying the academy so far and ultimately wants to become an officer.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said the Grossmont College student. “I loved driving the patrol cars. CSI was definitely interesting. I don’t really have an interest in that field, but it’s been an eye-opener.”
Ambrose, 19, said he’d recommend the class to anybody.
“It’s great to offer it to the citizens because it gives them insight,” he said.
Last week, participants also learned about a darker side of police work on Internet crimes against children.
Oyos discussed the role of the Internet Crimes Against Children taskforce, which is a multi-jurisdictional group comprised of local, state and federal enforcement officials as well as state and federal prosecutors, all cross-sworn.
“The goal of the taskforce is to protect the children and put the worst kind of people behind bars,” Oyos said.
Oyos investigates cases involving computers and child pornography, child prostitution and other crimes against children.
During his presentation, he shared several cases with students, some local.
“The cyber world is a dangerous place,” he said. “Online gaming is huge. They (predators) know where the kids are at, so that’s where they go.”
Ten percent of children who use the Internet have been asked to meet a stranger face-to-face that they met online, according to Oyos.
In addition, 40 percent of missing kids between ages 15 and 17 involve the Internet, he said.
Oyos said that perhaps the most alarming statistics is that 80 to 85 percent of child pornography offenders actually sexually assault children.
“It fuels their fire,” Oyos said. “They can only look at pictures for so long before the pictures don’t work anymore.”
Oyos said that for pedophiles, it’s about sexual preference.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” he said.
Oyos said pedophiles are obsessive collectors of child pornography.
“It satisfies their excessive compulsive sexual fantasies about children,” he said. “Their collections grow and grow.
They never throw it away … They also save it to show the kids that its OK.”
Dr. Chris Hatchen of University of California, San Francisco, discovered a developmental pattern of Internet offenders who molest after conducting a study in jail of sex offenders. He described it this way: “It begins with fantasy, moves to gratification through pornography, then voyeurism, and finally to contact.”
Oyos said the difficult part in catching pedophiles is that because it’s a taboo subject, they never talk about it with anyone.
“Most of the time, people who commit sexual crimes against children—they know them,” he said. “The kids are so vulnerable because they trust them.”
Oyos said it’s extremely important to know who kids are with and where they are all the time.
“You can’t trust anyone,” Oyos said. “It’s the biggest deepest, darkest secret that anybody can have … there are no markers … until they get caught or until somebody comes forward.”