By Jared Raney, reporter
The toughest job in Rhinelander?
The second-to-last week found Citizens’ Police Academy touring the Rhinelander Fire Department, playing with fire-hoses and crawling through smoke
There are few jobs more demanding than that of a policeman, but even some officers are willing to admit, those firemen are crazy. After experiencing just a taste of what they do on a daily basis, I can’t say I disagree.
Carrying pounds of equipment through smoke-filled rooms with no visibility, holding water hoses so powerful they sometimes take more than one person to hold—these are the things we experienced through the Citizens’ Academy firefighter session, and like I said, they were just a taste.
Mission to Control
In our last week of Citizen’s Police Academy we took a trip to the command center of Oneida County, a.k.a the Oneida County Law Enforcement Center. Home of the county jail, emergency dispatch and Sheriff’s department.
It sort of feels like being inside a bunker—stark walls of painted concrete, that we’re told are built to withstand an F4 tornado; steel doors and keypads. It’s no wonder the place holds two of the county’s most important facilities.
One is the emergency dispatch: a secure room with more monitors than Google headquarters, it’s probably the most technologically advanced spot in Oneida County. Recently updgraded, their computer system keeps track of the location of all officers on patrol, and can automatically find the closest officer for a call. If Rhinelander were a body, that room would be the brain.
Then there’s the jail. I’m not going to make a body analogy here, but you can use your imagination. If the rest of the building looks fortified, it’s nothing compared to this. The jail is split into two sections, called pods, and each is basically a giant cirle with a big observation platform in the middle.
Officers on that platform can see everything. They have line of sight into each cell block, monitors with feeds from dozens of cameras, and coolest of all, there’s a little panel that quite literally controls the entire jail. They can open doors remotely, turn off lights, the whole nine yards.
Formidable is the word that comes to mind, and one other thought; that I never, ever want to go to jail.
End of a journey
When I signed up for the Rhinelander Citizens’ Police Academy, I wasn’t sure if I should be excited or not, but it has proven to be a fruitful and valuable learning experience. Law enforcement is a tough job, to be sure, one that is often and easily criticized. It is a turbulent time for those involved in law enforcement, but if the past few weeks have taught me one thing, it’s that what you see on TV screens isn’t always the whole story. I’d like to thank the Rhinelander Police Department for this opportunity, and encourage you all to consider enrolling next year, including—or perhaps especially—those of you who are frustrated with the state of law enforcement today. I promise, you’ll have a different outlook after the Academy.