Cost-saving volunteers help Chesterfield police recruits

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Right now 15 people are training to be Chesterfield police officers. They're going through intensive exercises. One recruit just got done with a role playing scenario. In all there will be 20 real life situations that could not be done without the help of volunteers.

They're not the loving words expected by a married couple of 45 years. Today Jerry and Carolyn Howard have to be censored.

"This is what these young people are going to face out there. Only probably a lot worse," Jerry said.

The feisty pair is a couple in trouble- today only - as they fight for these Chesterfield recruits.

"Our whole idea in doing it is to help them to be safe, good police officers," Carolyn said.

Lieutenant Brian Smith oversees the role-plays.

"They range from death investigations, to domestics, to suspicious persons," Smith said. "If I were to be involved or one of the sergeants or training staff it wouldn't come across as being as real as it will by using actors in a different location."

Five years ago volunteers of all ages stepped in to help. They've saved Chesterfield police more than $80,000 in police over-time.

"It helps us provide a better quality of training and it also exposes these new officers to things from a different perspective," Smith stated.

Today Jerry and Carolyn will give up four hours of their time.

"I don't have any trouble getting in character. Maybe it's part of my inner self or something. I don't know," Carolyn commented.

As she smears on her "injury" Jerry preps for his role as the abusive, drunk husband.

"And it may actually help to save somebody's life someday," Carolyn said.

There are 15 recruits going through the scenarios. If they pass they're graduate December 3.

The role-playing scenarios are approved by the Department of Criminal Justice. When recruiting officers, Chesterfield County uses its real-life training exercises as a selling point.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.