Wider Horizons
> What is the velocity of detonation?
> How is a methodical search for a bomb conducted?
> Where would you set up a command post in a hostage/armed and barricaded subject situation?

Question after question, Lethbridge Regional Police Sgt. Christy Woods challenged her students in her Preliminary Response and Investigation course last spring. It may have been the last day of classes and a perfect, blue-sky afternoon, but Woods wanted her class to be ready for the final exam and, more importantly, ready to respond to some of the challenging situations police officers may face in their careers in criminal justice.

> In a hostage situation, what are the three courses of action to keep in mind?
> What are the three types of hostages?
> True or false: Traumatic stress only occurs immediately after a traumatic event?

With a voice shaped by experience and filled with encouragement, Woods, a 1999 graduate of Lethbridge College’s Conservation Enforcement program, took her 17 students through a review of the semester-long class, one of many each year at the college that are taught by instructors who are actively working in their professions.

“What does time give you?” she asked, nodding as the students offered their answers. “Time gives you a chance to think things through, to collect intelligence. If time is on your side, don’t rush. You want to preserve life, and if no one’s life is in danger, then don’t rush.”

The students responded eagerly to her questions and appreciated the perspective she offered as she shared real-life stories of crime scenes and investigations she undertook in her work with the Lethbridge Regional Police Service.

“You’re teaching us actual stuff we can use in the field,” says Barrett McMillan, a student in Woods’ first-year, second semester class in the Criminal Justice – Policing program. Woods spoke frankly to the students about mental health and stress facing police officers, reminding students that debriefing following a serious incident is essential. She also provided an honest perspective on keeping calm and detached when dealing with emotional people and situations.

“Whoever angers you controls you,” she said. And she advised the students to keep their equilibrium and to not let their jobs consume them. “You’re a lot of other things – a friend, a neighbor, a spouse,” she told the class. “Make sure you have hobbies, family and friends to support you. It’s okay to say you are not okay [after leaving a difficult scene or event]. Stop and get help.”

At the end of the class, when all of her questions were answered, the students stayed. They had a few questions of their own – and they wanted to pass along their thanks to her for providing a sense of what the real work they will soon be doing is like. Woods, who remembers well her days as a student, was happy to answer their questions.

For more information about Lethbridge College’s Criminal Justice program, call 302-329-7246 or email infojustice@lethbridgecollege.ca.
Wider Horizons
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