TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Equipped with radios, 40-caliber or 9mm training guns, notebooks and blank probable cause sheets, nearly a dozen college students awaited assignments from “headquarters,” a computer lab on the second floor of the Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee campus. Some are calm and ready for the action to begin. Others were visibly nervous.
“They’ve learned law enforcement from a text book and tonight students will put their knowledge to the test,” Sierra College Administration of Justice instructor Michael Fox explains to Becca Ormsby and a group of volunteers during “Police City,” a scenarios-based final exam for students in Fox’s “Police Field Operations” class.
As a police, fire and medical dispatcher for Washoe County, Ormsby is accustomed to a demanding, fast-paced environment. She’s generally behind six computer screens fielding 911 calls, requests for information and delivering outgoing messages. She was joined by Truckee police officers, off-duty Washoe County deputies, and civilian volunteers, including Fox’s wife and parents, on the scene to role-play and grade students’ performance in real-life scenarios.
“Sam Charles 5. SC 5 copy,” Orsmby said into her radio from “dispatch,” a small classroom on the first floor. “Report behind the building for a traffic stop.”
Within moments, more assignments were placed and students were calling in.
“SC-7, head to the library to investigate a past larceny.”
“SC-6, report to the lobby for a domestic disturbance call. Bring SC 1 with you. Copy.”
“This is S-5. May I have a 10-27, 10-29 on suspect?”
“This is SC-2. Can I get back up?”
Action ensued for the next three hours. Students were graded on how they approach, what they say, the questions they ask and their knowledge of proper police protocol when facing traffic, domestic disturbance and shop lifting incidents. Before leaving they do a complete building check.
“This is the coolest final assignment I’ve heard of. It’s fun,” said Ormsby.
Administration of Justice (AJ) is one of many programs offered on the Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee Campus. Fox will teach “Concepts of Criminal Law” Wednesday nights this fall and Truckee’s chief of police, Adam McGill, will teach “Community and the Justice System” on Tuesday evenings.
Some of the current students will apply to the Police Academy while others want to work for the Bureau of Land Management, CIA or FBI. One of the volunteers, a previous student of Fox’s, was just accepted to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Academy.
In addition to AJ, students can earn college degrees in accounting, business, English, human development, liberal arts, social sciences and psychology with in-person classes on the Tahoe, Truckee campus. Opportunities expand exponentially when online classes and classes in Rocklin and Grass Valley are added to the mix. Current Tahoe Truckee Unified School District high school students can enroll in Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee classes for just one dollar a unit.
For more information, call 530-550-2225 or visit the Tahoe-Truckee campus at 11001 College Trail, Truckee. Summer semester, July 1 to Aug. 3; Fall semester, Aug. 26 to Dec. 14, Begin by applying online at sierracollege.edu. Enroll in classes via MySierra.