Car teaches new cadets to skid

If Superior Court Judge Mike Annis always drove like he did Thursday, it's likely he would end up in a courtroom much like his own facing another judge.

 

The Augusta Judicial Circuit judge squealed tires around a track as one of the first to test Augusta Technical College's new skid-car vehicle at the Richmond County Sheriff's Training Center.

Described as a Ford Crown Victoria on training wheels, the vehicle will be used to teach new cadets how to handle rough weather and tight turns when the school's new 18-week police training program begins next month.

"It's running at low speeds but it gives you the feeling of traveling at high speeds," said Ken Jones, a professor of criminology. "You go into skids and slides and you learn how to maneuver during ice, snow and wet road conditions."

Judge Annis, along with student Audrea Espinoza, were mock students. The real test was for the instructors, who just completed certification.

Instructor Alfonso Williams pushed buttons on a keypad to command the vehicle's hydraulic system to raise and lower traction for the front and back tires. With the right amount of pressure, he took the "students" through a winding course of orange cones -- teaching them how to swing wide to prepare for slipping.

"Speed is not the issue here," Mr. Williams said. "It's all about the fundamentals of driving."

Mr. Jones said they already have 14 potential students ready for the school's inaugural public safety class.

The students will get training in constitutional law and criminal procedures, along with skill areas such as weapons training and emergency vehicle operations. They will receive college credit and be halfway to obtaining their associate's degree.