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Submarine Bloggers-Media Embark – Fall 2010

In Print Media on April 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm

By Dennis Hall, Founder

Over the past couple of years, my networking with the US Navy has found me getting my feet wet into the undersea

US Navy Submarine

world of submarine operations.  It’s most intriguing! Lieutenant Commander Denise Garcia, Public Affairs Officer of Submarine Squadron 11, informed that the Bloggers-Media Embark aboard a Los Angeles-class submarine scheduled for June 22, 2010 is now postponed until the fall of 2010. She is allowing me to nominate ten bloggers or podcasters for eight seats with two in reserve should there be two who have to cancel for whatever reasons.

Having sent out inquiries, the following bloggers and podcasters replied expressing interest and providing me their vitaes:  Christopher Carfi, me … Dennis Hall, Gina Hughes, Jennifer Jones, Cali Lewis, Sarah Austin, and Robert Scoble.

This immersion is the result of my networking with Navy Lieutenant Jan Bowers, Public Affairs Officer of Naval Surface Force – Pacific.  SURFPAC, as its known, is based at Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Coronado, also the home of the US Navy SEALs.  She and I coordinated the Bloggers-Media Embark involving bloggers flying aboard a Navy SH-60 Seahawk from NAS North Island near San Diego roundtrip to and from the USS Green Bay underway in the Pacific.  Lieuteant Jan Bowers referred me to her counterpart, Navy Lieutenant Commander Denise Garcia, the Public Affairs Officer of Submarine Squadron 11 based at Point Loma Submarine Base, San Diego, California.

During January, Lieutenant Commander Garcia forecast that our embark aboard a submarine out of Point Loma could occur either in May or June, but now it’s postponed to the fall.  I asked embark alumni for further referrals and introductions to more bloggers, podcasters, and journalists.  Charlene Li, Jennifer Van Grove, Andrew Nystrom, Jennifer Jones, and JD Lasica responded plentifully with a mix of Facebook friends, Twitter personalities, and popular blog and podcast personalities.   Over the past week, I have contacted several dozen of them with feedback of enthusiasm about these opportunities that are a chance of a lifetime.  Some expressed essentially that being in the Navy realm would render them as a fish out of water, but willing to make a go of it.

One immediate benefit was that I was able to nominate Amanda Congdon, podcaster, for an embark to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier.  The Navy’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the Commander – Naval Air Forces – Pacific, accepted my nomination and invited her. She embarked out and back to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier during Sunday and Monday of April 25 and 26.   She’s been posting about it for days now!

Jennifer Van Grove

Jennifer Van Grove, editor with Mashable, during early 2010 embarked underway aboard the USS Hampton submarine.  She immediately posted video and photos to her Facebook page inspiring me to promptly request support from Lieutenant Commander Denise Garcia for a Blogger-Media Embark.  She agreed … forecasting May or June.  Meanwhile I commented on Jennifer’s post as did also one of her Facebook friends who had served in the Navy.

Dennis Hall

Jennifer … Your video is amazing! Within eight months now you’ve embarked on the USS Nimitz, the USS Green Bay, and now the sub USS Hampton … You’ve experienced aircraft carrier, amphibious assault troop transport, and now submarine life. Amazing! Congratulations!

This was followed by one of her Facebook friends who served in the Navy:

Boarding USS Hampton

Egbert Oostburg

Jenny, Dennis is right! I spent 10 years in the Navy and did not get to experience all those platforms! How did you find

the accomodations?

Jennifer Van Grove

tight! I don’t think I could live on a sub and have just a few inches of personal space… I do however commend the sub’s captain for his interest in keeping crew morale high in spite of space limitations. That definitely came across as a priority.

All participants will pay their own expenses to travel roundtrip to and from the vicinity of NAS North Island near San Diego, CA.  Each participant will lodge in or near San Diego on the night of June 21, as show time at Point Loma Submarine Base is 7:30 a.m. on June 22.

I may be contact at ContactDennisHall@gmail.com.  I’m on Facebook: Avere Group, and Twitter: @AvereGroup.

As more information surfaces, I will update this post.  Anchors Aweigh!

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Bloggers Join in for CHP Media Boot Camp

In Print Media, Uncategorized on March 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

California Highway Patrol’s Media Day Boot Camp 2010

Avere Group produces documentaries and provides consultation services, and additionally organizes Bloggers-Media Embarks as part of its community contributions.  Visitors will find posts regarding Blogger-Media Embarks at AvereGroup.WordPress.com.  Follow Avere Group on Facebook and Twitter, @AvereGroup.

Bloggers & Admiral John Miller

On March 10, 2010, Jeremiah Owyang and I completed the one-day CHP Media Boot Camp at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento, CA.  During our day, we were informed that the class of cadets whom we would see in training on the campus would graduate during July 2010, or four months later.  Here is Jeremiah’s and my account of our day, and at the end of this posting, please see pictures from the July 2010 graduation.  We are entirely proud of all cadets for their dedication to public safety.  As you can see, they are a profoundly wonderful class of people of both genders and all ethnicities.  Congratulations to the California Highway Patrol!

Top bloggers and podcasters, including Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble, and Jennifer Jones all wanted to participate in the Media Boot Camp hosted by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) on March 10, 2010 at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento, California. This was a variation on the theme of Blogger-Media Embark.

My invitation to them revealed a March 10th date which collided head-on with the South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals a.k.a. SXSW in Austin, Texas, a popular endeavor for prolific bloggers-podcasters.  Podcaster Jennifer Jones of MarketingVoices.com who embarked to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier underway in the Pacific Ocean during May 2009 expressed hopes CHP will invite her next year, writing, “I was disappointed that I could not attend the CHP event. I know I would have been the most fit female in the group that Dennis arranged!” Jen Leo of JenLeo.com who embarked to the USS Nimitz, USS Green Bay, and San Quentin Prison lamented, “Can’t believe I’m missing this! Sorry Dennis 😦 HAVE FUN!”  And, Gina Hughes of TechieDivas.com who embarked to the USS Green Bay and San Quentin Prison wished she could be in two places at once, “Wish I was going! Sounds like so much fun!!”   I set about to invite new bloggers whom had not yet participated in these blogging embarks. I was fortunate to snare Jeremiah Owyang, technology analyst and blogger, pronounced Jeremiah “Ow-yang”.

Jeremiah Owyang & Dennis Hall

Jeremiah Owyang, technology analyst, is a Managing Director with Altimeter Group founded by USS Nimitz aircraft carrier Bloggers-Media Embark alum Charlene Li.  He also blogs via his site Web-Strategist and for Forbes magazine plus microblogs via Twitter.  While he, too, was booked for SXSW, he pressed this opportunity into his itinerary.  Jeremiah and I had not met each other yet, but he has long been slated as a participant of our blogging embarks, for example he’ll be embarking to-from a Navy aircraft carrier underway in the Pacific this year.  His first tweet reveals his excited anticipation: “Today is a special day of tweets, as I am a California highway patrol cadet, live pics coming today” (#chp 6:01 AM Mar 10th).

Thank you, California Highway Patrol, for your generosity in providing us this incredible opportunity.

Thank you CHP Academy cadets for your desire to serve in public safety.  You’re each outstanding, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.  I hope to attend your July 9th graduation.

To everyone who currently serves in law enforcement whether sworn or not, or who is either retired or changed careers out of law enforcement, thank you for your dedication to public safety.

To all families whose loved one was a peace officer who had his or her life taken in the line of duty, my sincerest condolences.  Thank you.

Bloggers with Warden

Following the successful and intriguing Blogger- Media Embark to San Quentin Prison with Guy Kawasaki, Dave Winer, Robert Scoble, Jen Leo, Ponzi Pirillo, Gina Hughes, Mark Iwasa, and April Nelson. I decided to focus some research and development into law enforcement embark blogging-podcasting-journalism opportunities.  I also looked for embarks that are physically and mentally taxing.  As great fortune would have it, the Public Affairs Officer of the legendary Navy SEALs warriors approached me about a tentative embark of bloggers to meet Navy SEAL warriors.  The CHP Media Boot Camp was, therefore, a great precursor for our future rendezvous with the Navy SEALs due to both including physical training, shooting, close-in physical self-defense, and split-second decision making.

CHP's EVOC Track

The CHP Emergency Vehicle Operators Course (EVOC) involving high-speed pursuit training on a track at the CHP Academy was the initial inspiration for my contacting the CHP about a Blogger-Media Embark.  I checked in with Guy Kawasaki back in June of 2009 about participating, and he responded, “I would do this in a second”.   Darn that South by Southwest Festival falling on the same date!

Law enforcement implements high-technology for fostering efficiency and gathering of evidence to support citations and prosecution of defendants leading to successful convictions.  While “robo cop” is still far off into the future, today’s peace officers have a multitude of technologies mounted to their uniforms, helmets, vehicles, and weapons that aid them in expediting resolution of incidents on their beats.  It was a natural fit, then to bring out bloggers who are also technology analysts.

The California Highway Patrol is incredible, and is built from the ground up.  Nobody gets a break in entering the organization when they seek to be a sworn CHP officer.  All CHP officers complete the 27-week CHP Academy in West Sacramento.  It’s a tough endeavor demanding absolute will, focus, and dedication … plus high intelligence.  The washout rates vary, but the class sizes open in the range of from 180 to 240 cadets with graduating classes of about 140 to 180, respectively.  Cadets do not pay tuition.  In fact, each is paid well while attending the Academy.  This income helps defray some of the costs of uniforms and other essential items to support their careers as CHP officers.  For example, one uniform costs $180!  Just one.  Officers need several at any one time, dry cleaned and ready to go.

Jeremiah Owyang Ready to Go

CHP Commander Fran Clader and Jaime Coffee, Information Officer II, with the CHP Office of Media Relations offered me an invitation of three blogger-podcaster slots for its fourth annual CHP Media Boot Camp slated for the CHP Academy in West Sacramento, California.  Jeremiah Owyang reported, “Lots of big media here. Me?” (http://twitpic.com/17qg6m #fast #light 6:29 AM Mar 10th).

Here is my Flickr set of pictures chronicling this most memorable day of boot camp.

AGENDA

0700 Attendee Check-in

0710 Flag Raising

0715 Walk to Drill Pad

0730 Observe Cadets Drilling on Parade Ground

0745 Staff Office to form up media for drill and formation march to gym

0800 Captain’s Welcome, review of day’s activities, and comments

0810 Issuance of CHP T-Shirt, Physical Training (PT) Workout

0840 Obstacle Course

0915 Force Option Training Simulator (FOTS) & DUI Demonstration

1130 Lunch (Presentation by Assistant Commissioner Ramona Prieto)

1215 Observe CHP Fallen Officer Memorial Fountain Ceremony

1245 Staged Collision Display & Participation & Skid Pan Driving

1425 Debrief with Captain Brent Newman & Interview Cadets

1500 Adjourn

The CHP Media Boot Camp is no small undertaking for either the CHP or participants.  For CHP, it’s the culmination of months of detailed planning with Commander Fran Clader and Jaime Coffee, Information Officer II, of CHP’s Office of Media Relations as key internal planners and liaison.  For media participants, it’s a full-on immersion of sensory and intellectual intake and processing offering a taste of the daily life over 27 weeks of a CHP Cadet striving to earn her or his badge to become a sworn Officer of the California Highway Patrol.  It’s just a taste, as we began at 7 a.m., but cadets are up at 4 a.m., and by 7 a.m., they have already done much, including preparation, physical training, breakfast, and forming up to complete drill on the parade ground.  Ashley Gebb of the Appeal Democrat newspaper in Marysville, California reports her first-hand experience at the boot camp in her article titled, “Taste of CHP training leaves reporter full of pain.”

The Appeal Democrat posted an excellent slideshow of Ashley Gebb participating in the CHP Media Boot Camp … Slideshow.

Driving eastbound on Interstate 80 to the Reed Avenue exit in West Sacramento, California, I looked east to see the sun peering over a dark bank of rain clouds above the silhouetted skyscrapers of Sacramento.  It was a fabulous, encouraging site opening a day I would not ever forget, and feel by way of sore muscles.

Jeremiah and I converged at the CHP Academy.  It begins as you drive into the facility with a greeting by a smiling CHP officer at a gate and adjacent shack.

While the officer was most pleasant and gave each of us directions, I won’t state who, but one of us the nice officer pointed out had a vehicular infraction that required immediate remedy, as in TODAY.  Fortunately, the CHP posted three cadets at intervals along the surrealistic, tranquil route of curving roadway lined with green grass, flowers, and groomed trees to keep all of us from parking in the Commissioner’s spot.  In my rearview mirrors I observed a convoy of media vans following me … too, deer in the headlights.  Our group massed to about 30 or so with pairs of reporters and camera crew members to capture a ‘day in the life of a CHP Academy cadet’. Essentially, I was Jeremiah Owyang’s cameraman in backing up his own photography via his iPhone to support his series of live tweets.

A serious, but courteous CHP Academy cadet directed me with his right index finger to park in the lot facing westward toward a soothing pasteur with a distant mountain range as backdrop.

Jeremiah and I greeted each other in front of the CHP Academy’s Administration Building for registration and meeting the other media participants.  Jeremiah held up his camera facing us and clicked a snapshot of us together.  We strolled up into the lobby where we observed memorials to fallen CHP officers, a side-by-side comparison display of two CHP motorcycles, a mini-museum of sorts.  There in front of us was the most recently used type of CHP motorcycle, a Kawasaki motorcycle with its windshield and aerodynamic fairing resembling a white oyster shell.   It contrasted significantly with the currently used sleek, bullet-nosed, high-tech BMW motorcycle.  Across the aisle we studied a displayed CHP ‘slick top’ Chevy Camaro.

KRCR's Nick & Adam with Officer

As I had already that morning met a few of the media participants due to arriving extra early, I introduced Jeremiah to Stanley Roberts, Video Journalist with the Bay Area’s KRON television, Audrey Asistio – Reporter with KHSL television in Chico, and Nick Emmons and Adam McAllister of KRCR television in Redding who filed the report titled, “CHP Academy Boot Camp“.

It was time for the kick-off of our CHP Media Boot Camp, so we observed a dozen cadets form up line abreast in front of the Administration Building facing westward to initiate the raising of the American, California and CHP flags right after the break of dawn.

Immediately following the raising of the flags, a CHP officer directed us to walk to the parade ground just south by a hundred yards from the flagpole.  We gathered there and observed the cadets marching in formation and the Drill Instructors or “DI”s scrutinizing their every move and calling them out for corrective action.

DI Inspects

Commander Fran Clader encouraged us to infiltrate the parade ground to capture on film and digital video the morning drilling.  Being Wednesday, the drilling included rehearsal of a ceremony held each Wednesday at the academy’s epicenter to pay tribute to CHP officers killed in the line of duty over the past several decades.  Jeremiah Owyang tweeted … “Watching drills. This cadet is getting chewed out. Uh oh”. (http://twitpic.com/17qh1o 6:33 AM Mar 10th)

There’s no substitute for first-hand experience, so a Drill Instructor or “DI” had us form up into a rectangular formation and then immediately we were exposed to conditions similar to those of a cadet’s first morning at the academy.  Jeremiah Owyang tweeted … “Uh oh. We’ve been told to drill. I’m in the back row. Pray for me.” (http://twitpic.com/17qjjv 6:48 AM Mar 10th)

Drill Instructors that provided us dosages of reality check included Sergeants David Little and Greg Askew, and officers John Fransen, Mike Paulson, Jeff Martin, and Russ Somervill.

The DI … I do not recall his name among the several who focused attention on us … said something like, “Good Morning”, and then barked … ‘I can’t hear you!’ and we responded in chorus “GOOD MORNING!!”  He then stated emphatically that when he wants us to look at him he will state “Eyes” and we are to look at him and simultaneously exclaim “Click!”  He sounded out, “Eyes” and we bungled it, so he said, “Eyes!”  We responded in a much more concerted way “Click!”   He continued … ‘OK … when I say “Ears”, you respond “Open!” … Is that understood?”  Our response was not too confident, so he asked, “Do you understand!”  We replied, “Yes, Sir!”   This went on for a short while until we had our act half-way together, and then he proceeded to teach us formation movements such as Left Face, Right Face, About Face, and Dress-Right-Dress.  With that basic curriculum behind us, he proceeded to drill us in place and it was not going too well. We were the proverbial herd of kittens.  The other DIs chimed in with admonishing assessments such as “this is not a discotheque!” after we botched our collective attempts to all make a unified left or right face and then spin around for an about face.

Cadets drilling

Our DIs kept to the tight schedule, and in so doing marched us to the gym for PT, or physical training right away.  The DI counted out cadence so that we’d keep in step … He wanted us to use the left foot striking the ground as our guide, so he’d command  “left”, “left”, “left”, “right”, “left”, but enunciated he sounded though like he was saying … “Leyop … leyop … leyop.”  We got it down after a few strides. In route, I studied the immaculate academy grounds over the shoulder of the reporter in front of me.  CHP runs a tight ship, that is readily apparent, and the grounds of the academy reflect well on absolute perfection of care.

We entered and formed up inside the gym where the Commander of the Office of the Academy, Captain Brent Newman, warmly welcomed us and thanked us for our participation.  He then gestured for the DI to relinquish control of us over to the physical training staff for PT.

Jaime Coffee, in confirming our invitation via e-mail with an attached, tentative agenda a few days before our arrival gave us the assurance that for the PT session an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) would be on hand should any one or more of us need first-aid.  I shared this information who found it to be humorous in a frightening, dark kind of way.  My friend John Flentz envisioned, “EMT on site. Hahahaha! Why am I getting a mental picture of some vintage Monty Python skit?”

A DI stepped forward with a big box full of white cotton t-shirts and dumped them out onto the gym’s polished wood floor.  The CHP had cadets inscribe our last names on the back of them in block black bold letters … there was mine … HALL, so I fetched and in one fluid motion I also tossed Jeremiah his OWYANG inscribed shirt.  Across the front left in small print was silk-screened California Highway Patrol.  The Physical Training staff sprang into action firmly ordering us to fetch and don our shirts expeditiously.

Providing us with our physical training included the head of the Physical Training Unit, Sergeant Marc Gomez, and he was assisted by Officers Adriana Warner, Don Carte, Jose Macias, Ron Stott, and Greg Daniels who are all PT instructors.

For a moment, PT was like watching a fitness DVD, but within no time at all the staff made no bones about the fact we were not in shape, and needed to ‘get it together’ with fast-pacing comments.  KRON’s Stanley Roberts of San Francisco filed his report titled, “Stanley Roberts Goes Through CHP Bootcamp.”  Jeremiah Owyang tweeted …”Ouch. Our drill instructors said we were pathetic, sorry and said my last name is trash.” ( 9:15 AM Mar 10th via)

After a half-hour of life-changing awareness of our lack of fitness, the Physical Training Instructors presented us with fresh challenges all cadets endure and overcome … the obstacle course!  But first, we needed to do some formation running on the track.  Jeremiah and I lead our columns around the track and over to the course.  Audrey Asistio, Reporter with KHSL Action News in Chico, California filed her report with illumination of the obstacle course titled, “What it Takes to Become a CHP Officer.”   The obstacle course has a cross-beam structure with two dangling inch-thick ropes, a five-foot wall to overcome first and then a series of under and over hurdles and agility maze and concluding with a 50-yard sprint to cross a finish line.  Cadets have to climb the ropes and also do overhead bar work.  We got off easy.  It was definitely something I don’t do everyday, and all along the way the DIs barked deprecating assessments as to how slow we were moving.  I was so glad when the obstacle course was history, but glad I did make it over the wall.  Jeremiah tweeted, “The drill instructors had a field day with my last name. I nearly collapsed during PT, lots of yelling!!!” (http://twitpic.com/17rabk 9:22 AM Mar 10th )

Marching to Everywhere

As we were armed with newfound skill of marching in formation, the Physical Training staff concluded our PT with orders to form up outside.  Again we had the intellectual drills from our DI of “Eyes” and “Ears” before he proceeded to order a Right Face … Forward March to the FOTS … or, Force Options Training Simulator.  Jeremiah tweeted, “Ouch. Our drill instructors said we were pathetic, sorry and said my last name is trash.” (9:15 AM Mar 10th )

CHP incorporates high-technology virtual reality into its training and evaluation curriculum for cadets in regards to use of force be it firearms such as a pistol, debilitating spray, or taser.  One tool is the Force Options Training Simulator or FOTS. Once, some time ago, I heard a CHP Captain, now retired, named Gordon Graham present at a conference.  His topic was titled ‘High Risk – Low Frequency’ and addressed the fact that sometimes we come into very high risk situations threatening our personal safety, but so low in frequency, that we have to be ready to maintain our poise and composure to deescalate the situation for safety’s sake. The content of his lecture came to the forefront of my mind when I entered this phase of our media day.

The instructor paired us up and had us wear holsters holding a pistol that does not fire real bullets, but rather was interfaced to a computer program that activates our shooting responses of the pistol, the spray, or the taser at a screen inside the trailer.  I was paired with Nick Emmons, Reporter, with KRCR News in Redding, California.  His Chief Photographer was Adam McAllister who recorded our training for their broadcasts.  As they were a television media team, I volunteered to have Nick be the primary officer, with me his back-up, in our dealing with simulated situations projected by the computer software onto a large screen in the FOTS trailer.   The instructor put us through various simulations of situations where we had to make judgment calls on what to say to the motorist and passenger(s) and when necessary what use of force to implement to protect ourselves.  It was not easy to say the least.  This software is well scripted to mess with your mind.  You have to be alert not just on the primary subject, such as the driver, but additional characters on the scene.  You might be in a situation, for example, where someone who was not even in the vehicle comes to the aid of the attacking motorist.  Pistol? Gas? Taser?  What to do! What to do! Nick did well, but as his back-up I had decide on actions, too.  I drew my pistol, aimed and shouted at the suspects to drop their weapons, but they would not and Nick and I were at severe risk, so I fired and winged the suspects.  Our instructor showed us how Nick and my pistols were color-coded on the screen as to where the bullets lodged.  It was great to be able to see our rounds striking the targets in close proximity to each other.  Jeremiah tweeted his experience, “I shot a bad guy in a virtual simulator. Very intense. See gun range. SWAT team is firing live next door AR15.” (http://twitpic.com/17r9we 9:20 AM Mar 10th)

Defensive Open Palm Punch

Following the nerve-wracking few minutes in the Force Option Training Simulator (FOTS) trailer, it was time for us to learn what to do when it comes down to close-in combat with an assailant. Jeremiah tweeted, “Time for self defense “officer safety.” (http://twitpic.com/17rd79 9:39 AM Mar 10thSergeant Leonard Tomboc and Officer Jeff Carlisle from the Advanced Officer Safety Training (AOST) Unit showed us a poster containing actual photos of a CHP officer in close combat with an assailant.  They then had us form up on padded mats to kick, thrust punch, and defensively guard ourselves in unison. Jeremiah tweeted, “Front kicks with #chp these guys are bad ass.” (http://twitpic.com/17rgbt 9:58 AM Mar 10th)  But what if the assailant somehow gets you on the ground, and worse yet is sitting on your abdomen-chest attempting to strike you in the face?  Jeremiah tweeted, “Ground fighting with CHP. Defending mount then bridge and roll.” (http://twitpic.com/17rhca)  This was an awkward few minutes for me, as Jeremiah and I were only acquainted in person now for about three hours, and yet, I’m supposed to sit straddled on Jeremiah’s chest pretending to attempt blows to his face while he defended himself, and then vice versa.  All I can say is we just jumped in there with all fours and got through it, but it was awkward for me.

At 10 a.m., we gathered in a classroom near the FOTS for our instruction in the area of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Alcohol and other Drugs.  Officers Tyler Eccles and John (Jody) Owen introduced themselves to us.  This also where we first became introduced to and acquainted with Lieutenant DeWayne Lewis, Instructional Services Program Manager.  One of the first things we did in this session of instruction was for each of us to pair up so we could do an observational study on the person with whom we were paired.  Jeremiah and I faced each other.  The instructors explained that the word Nystagmus means “jerking of the eyes.”  They told us to take turns doing four spins on our feet in place and for the person facing us to point his or her index finger out past our paired partner’s peripheral vision.  Immediately, Jeremiah was spinning in front of me and I quickly raised my arm to move my index finger out.  Sure enough as Jeremiah moved his eyes to follow my finger, his eyes were jerking as though having spasms.  Next up was my turn, and I did the same. This exercise demonstrated physiological reactions of vestibular and neural processing of a sober person.

DUI Goggles

Our instructors proceeded to address traffic stops where the driver is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.  In front of each of us was a small breath device called an Alco Sensor used to collect samples each suspect’s breath to determine level of alcohol intoxication.  We each got a sterile mouthpiece to use for blowing into the devices for a few seconds until the device registered a full collection.  For commercial drivers at or above 21 years old, a Blood Alcohol Content of 4 percent is the threshold of being illegally intoxicated.  For the general public at or above 21 years old, 8 percent is the threshold.  There is zero tolerance for drivers under 21, meaning there cannot be any percentage of alcohol registered.  Jeremiah and I both took our turns.  We’d both had consumed about eight ounces of wine within the past fifteen hours, but apparently we had fully metabolized the alcohol, as the Alco Sensor reading was Zero. Jeremiah tweeted, “Just took a breathalyzer test, I passed.” (http://twitpic.com/17rbje 9:29 AM Mar 10th)

Officers conduct Field Sobriety Tests when evaluating the toxicity of drunk and drug- impaired suspects using the Walk & Turn, One-Leg Stand, Romberg Balance, and Finger-to-Nose procedures.  As a group, we went outdoors and wearing amazing DUI simulation goggles.  These goggles refract light so that visual senses get distorted to simulate similar impairment as having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 7% up to 10%.  We put on the goggles and each tried our hand at passing the test.  Jeremiah tweeted, “DUI tests, these goggles simulate .7 BAC.” (http://twitpic.com/17r9am 9:17 AM Mar 10th)

KRON's Stanley Roberts

We marched over to the Academy Mess Hall where we lined up with trays to make sections from the buffet, including dissert.

During lunch, Assistant Commissioner Ramona Prieto, the Assistant Commissioner of Leadership Development and Communications, greeted us and thanked us for participating. She was followed by Commander Fran Clader showing us a DVD that provides an informational overview of the roles and capabilities of the CHP.  In closing, Captain Brent Newman presented on the career opportunities of CHP sworn personnel and their retirement benefits, including that 60 years old is the maximum age up to which an officer may serve. Jeremiah tweeted, “Captain Newman said most CHP retire in 50s, most don’t live to old ages due to stress and haz mat exposure.” (11:25 AM Mar 10th) and “27 week training program, on campus for cadets, home on weekends. Starting CHP salary $48k a year. 5 hours sleep a day” (11:13 AM Mar 10th)

Every Wednesday, the CHP Academy conducts a solemn ceremony in the center of the campus where there is a fountain.  It’s called the Fountain Ceremony.  Surrounding the fountain is a circular wall.  Mounted on top of the rim are brass nameplates of CHP officers whose lives were taken from them in the line of duty.  Each plate bears the officer’s

Fallen Officer's plate

name and date of death, or date of “end of watch.”  The cadets march to the fountain where they conduct a choreographed ceremonial procedure to polish the brass plates.  It’s immensely moving to watch.

CHP cadets rehearse crash-scene procedures via staged collision displays that include actors made up with wounds.  Upon conclusion of the Fountain Ceremony, we formed up and marched about a quarter of a mile out into an area that resembled your typical rural roads and scenery.  There we found a mock head-on collision of a car and a pick-up truck complete with actors made up with simulated collision injuries.  CHP even had a tow truck operator on-scene to add to the realism of the staged event. Sergeant Chuck Swift from the Accident Investigation Unit presented to us on the scenario and introduced the cast of additional instructors with whom we’d be assigned to do specific crash scene duties.

Mock Crash Instructors

Sergeant Swift succinctly explained the scope of work and priorities of an officer arriving to the scene of a crash.  Officer safety is paramount, so measures must be taken to insure that vehicular traffic does not collide with officers, the other emergency response personnel arriving, present, or departing, and such people as the Coroner, media, and possibly family members arriving to, present at, or leaving the crash scene.  With instant communications today via Smart phones and other hand-held devices, victims themselves, bystanders, witnesses, and good Samaritans can immediately attract attention to a crash scene causing it to become dangerously populated.  Sergeant Swift paired us up.  Each pair would be assigned a distinct task.  John Perrige of KSSI FM radio in China Lake, California paired with me.  Officer Eric Stayer detailed our elaborate task and then took us through the paces of inspecting both vehicles as we completed the forms. We accounted for the conditions of the vehicles involved in the collision.  These forms detailed each vehicle’s global position, physical condition, e.g. condition of each tire, and contents of the vehicle, for example specific details as to the car’s music system – radio – player – speakers, etc.

EVOC Skid Pan Instructor

Our final destination for our CHP activities was the Skid Pan at the Emergency Vehicle Operators Course or EVOC.  The acronym EVOC is particularly clever, as it sounds like “evoke”, and EVOC certainly evokes much enthusiasm, exhilaration, and possibly trepidation.

It’s all about mastering the principles of driving force equals mass times acceleration (F = Mass x Acceleration). It’s also the place where another f-word comes to mind … Failure.  Cadets get four chances to succeed in mastering car-handling procedures at high-speed  or they fail.  Here instructors sit in the driver’s seat initially and take the law enforcement cruiser, a Ford Crown Victoria onto the track in a mock high-speed pursuit under low traction conditions, e.g. rain, snow, gravel.  A CHP officer must maintain situational awareness of the vehicle pursued whether car, truck, or motorcycle, surrounding vehicles that will undoubtedly be in the way, and yet keep the car under stable, constructive control for safety and success in closing in on the suspect.  The tires are essentially bald offering in

EVOC Driving Instructor

combination with the hydroplaning characteristics of the wet surface to only have about fifteen percent traction, hence skidding.

First, instructors gave us a short lecture using an overview of the EVOC Skid Pan.  Here an instructor explains the physics of successfully keeping energy in the car managed by various steering controls.

In the blink of an eye, Jeremiah Owyang and I were in a Crown Victoria cruiser with our instructor Rick at the wheel and Stanley Roberts of KRON TV of the Bay Area in the passenger’s seat.  Rick put the pedal to the metal and we were screaming around the first corner in a left curve and instinctively we felt the energy transfer out toward the right, but Rick spun the steering wheel right into spin out to correct and align the Crown Vic as he accelerated toward the vehicle we pursued.  What a rush! … We were at high speed and entered another left curve and all of a sudden he demonstrated a spin out of two complete rotations of the Crown Vic.  I glanced over at Jeremiah as the

Jeremiah Owyang in Skid Car

world blurred out the window over his left shoulder and just let it unfold until we came to stop.  Rick hit the gas and off we went.  He gave us two or three spins around the track before handing me the keys with a smile.  I couldn’t wait!  Here are two television stories that include footage of our joy on the track. The first is KRON and the second is KHSL.

I both immensely enjoyed my several, spinning passes around the track, but I also learned much about safe handling in a skid.

KRON’s Stanley Roberts of San Francisco filed his report titled, “Stanley Roberts Goes Through CHP Bootcamp” with footage of him at the steering wheel negotiating the turns.  Audrey Asistio, Reporter with KHSL Action News in Chico, California filed her report, “What it Takes to Become a CHP Officer” that includes awesome exterior footage of the Skid Pan and her wearing her seatbelt.

Upon completion of the Skid Pan exercise, we were finished … in several respects.  We walked in mass to the Cadet Mess Hall where we gathered for refreshments and to finally actually meet some current CHP Academy cadets who are slated to graduate on July 9, 2010.

The cadets filed into the large room and faced us line-abreast.  Lieutenant DeWayne Lewis, Instructional Services Program Manager, and Commander Fran Clader explained that each cadet present has a hometown from where each of us media representatives reports.  We would have some time to meet with each one CHP assigned to us to get more insight into the daily life of a CHP cadet.  First the cadets introduced themselves with their name, hometown, and age.  The range of ages was 21 to 37 and for statisticians, the graph would be skewed toward the lower end in the twenties.  Lt. Lewis informed me that I would meet with three cadets, one from San Jose, Campbell, and Livermore, California.

Lt. Lewis asked us to then come meet the cadets and find a place to talk.  I was immensely impressed with the three cadets with whom I met.  I met with one woman and two male cadets, all in their twenties.  At this point in their careers, they each had distinct forecasts of how they wished to see their CHP careers unfold over the next 30 or so years.  They spoke with pride about their experiences and camaraderie at the Academy, but look forward to ‘getting out there’ to their first assignments.

Ashley Gebb of the Appeal Democrat composed this excellent article of her interview with a CHP cadet titled, “CHP cadet working on a tan-uniformed dream.”

What I always remember is that the senior leadership of the CHP in 30 years will all come from the foundation of CHP Academy graduates at this time.

Upon completion of this incredible CHP Media Boot Camp, I was sore for the next three days, as my lack of fitness was readily apparent.  Jeremiah reported in from the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, “”Oh that was awesome.  Navy Seals will demolish us.  Ok, let’s do it.”  He’s referring to the fact that the Navy SEALs contacted me interested in having a blogger embark.  It that comes to pass, and this boot camp is any indication, I had better strive every day to get immensely fit.  Good!

To everyone at the CHP who made this happen … “Thank you !!”

Again, to everyone who serves in law enforcement whether sworn or not, thank you for your dedication to public safety.

Here are links to current media stories stemming from the reporters and their cameraperson participating in the 2010 CHP Media Boot Camp:

KHSL – TV, Chico, CA

http://www.khsltv.com/content/localnews/story/What-it-Takes-to-Become-a-CHP-Officer/g0r_anZR-06NY-gnrf4_rw.cspx

KRON – TV, San Francisco, CA

http://www.kron4.com/News/FeaturedReporters/StanleyRobertsPeopleBehavingBadly/tabid/215/Default.aspx

KRCR – TV, Redding, CA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCKnBt_UjJ0

Appeal Democrat, Marysville, CA

http://www.appeal-democrat.com/articles/pain-92781-accurate-reporter.html

Appeal Democrat Slideshow

http://www.appeal-democrat.com/sections/slideshow/?pic=3&id=2545087

Appeal Democrat, Interview with CHP Cadet

http://www.appeal-democrat.com/articles/cadets-92780-owen-training.html

Willows Journal Newspaper

http://www.willows-journal.com/news/academy-4446-training-chp.html

The Daily Democrat

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/ci_14699696?IADID=Search-www.dailydemocrat.com-www.dailydemocrat.com

The Inyo Register

By Mike Gervais

http://www.inyoregister.com/content/view/121530/1/

The Valley Spring News

By Nick Baptista

http://valleyspringsnews.com/county-news.htm

California Highway Patrol Academy Graduation, July 9, 2010

Graduating Class Arrives for Congratulations

Semper Vigilant

Congratulations are in Order

CHP Graduating Class

Congratulations

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow, New Officer, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

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