Students Learn Basics of Law and Order Program Demonstrates Police Work Isn't like Television or Movies

Article excerpt

An age-old complaint among high-school students is that they will never use what they learn in school. That certainly doesn't apply to the law-enforcement program at North County Technical High School, where students aspiring to be police officers learn the everyday responsibilities and duties that come with the badge.

The only program of its kind in the state, the year-long law-enforcement class offers some of the same basic course work as the police academies, says Esther Angelos, the instructor.

Angelos should know. When she earned her badge in 1972, she was one of the first 10 policewomen on patrol in the country. She served 17 years as an officer in St. Louis County before she was asked to teach the class in 1989. Having earned a degree in education before she entered the police academy, Angelos seized what she saw as a wonderful opportunity to combine her two interests.

Her experience is not lost on her students.

"Students always ask me the same questions at the start of the semester," says Angelos, "like, `Did you ever have to shoot anyone?' or `What's the worst thing you ever saw?' "

The first lesson the students learn every year is about communication and attitude.

"They have to learn the idea of being responsible for their behavior," said Angelos. "How they do now will have an effect on what they do later."

Michael Morris, a senior, found that lesson helpful in his internship last semester at the county police department's first precinct station.

"You learn how to present yourself and conduct yourself as a professional," Michael said.

The rest of the curriculum covers police basics: report writing, fingerprinting, identification, searches, gun safety, handcuff procedures.

"They always like it when we get to the handcuff part," said Angelos with a smile.

The students spend three days learning and then earning their certification in CPR, because police officers often are the first to respond to an emergency call. …