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Citizen Academy log: Putting the pieces together

Editor’s note: This is the latest story covering the Red Wing Police Department Citizen Academy. Reporter Matthew Lambert will recount the events that unfold in each class, sharing details and observations of what he experienced during his time in the academy.

Imagine you get a puzzle. Let's say it has 500 pieces to it.

You're trying to construct an image with the pieces, but you find that 15 percent of them are blank.

They aren't blank by design, mind you. The puzzle maker neglected to fill in the blank spots.

But yet the expectation is for you to put the thing together anyways, trying to form some sort of image.

That's basically what a detective has to do.

A detective may have to respond to an incident where they only have a fraction of the information upon arrival. And unlike the puzzle, this may be life or death for one or many people.

So the detective and other officers work to find the rest of the information possible to complete the puzzle.They start putting the edge pieces together, fill in some small chunks near the middle, but still have a lot of blank pieces.

And things may get more difficult when the people lie, mislead or just don't know. So the blank pieces stay that way.

That's a daily occurrence for people like David Addelman and Keegan Quinn. They're putting a puzzle together, on a time constraint, in a life or death situation, with their hands full of blank pieces.

Investigations was the topic of discussion at the Citizen Academy this week, with Addelman and Quinn talking about their day-to-day lives on the job.

Addelman, the investigations sergeant, spoke about the department's overall focus. The investigations division concentrates on violent crimes like sexual assault, narcotics and death to name a few.

It's a job that's as taxing as it sounds. Addelman said every cop has been told he or she sucks within the first three months on the job, so he's learned to let it roll off his shoulders, but wrapping my head around this aspect of life is hard for me.

Like his colleague, Quinn, whose role is focused heavily on narcotics the department, the job has to be compartmentalized to keep him a fully functional member of society.

Quinn said when they're planning to enter a home, whether that be a drug raid or a dangerous individual, that you have to prepare for the possibility of things going wrong, so they can react and contain the situation.

It may sound naive, but I've never had to do that. I've never had to consider if things went horribly wrong, how would I react?

I guess this is when I mention that I've never been in a real life-or-death situation (knock on wood at this moment).

The auger didn't start on my snowblower on Wednesday. A major inconvenience, as our area more closely resembles the baron wasteland of Siberia, but not anything close to what a detective has to deal with.

But the snowblower has been the most dire thing in my life since the start of 2019. Oddly pathetic, but a big deal to me.

The satisfaction I'll have after figuring out why the auger won't work (as a side note: I'm bringing it somewhere to get fixed because I'm not a mechanically inclined individual) will be incredible. I guess that's why I understand the detectives do their job.

To be in that situation, and help people that genuinely need help, is the reason why it's all worth it. Long hours, inconsiderate citizens, dangerous people, and badly modeled television shows based loosely on your job are the downfalls, and clearly there's many of them.

But to get that opportunity, to slide that once blank piece perfectly into the last place of the puzzle, has got to be the greatest feeling of all. Even if the image sucks.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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