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New Richmond County officers learn extreme driving skills on course

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After 23 years in the army, Joe Driscoll is ready to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a police officer.

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A Richmond County Police Academy student practices the high-speed driving course. The course teaches students the physics of driving a car at high speeds and in tight spots by maneuvering around tight corners and backing through spaces without knocking over cones.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
A Richmond County Police Academy student practices the high-speed driving course. The course teaches students the physics of driving a car at high speeds and in tight spots by maneuvering around tight corners and backing through spaces without knocking over cones.

“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” the 45-year-old said. “Now I get to have fun.”

Driscoll was one of 15 Peace Officers Training Academy students at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office training center who practiced evasive driving techniques last week. In week 15 of the 18-week class, the students whipped around a course in a beat-up Ford Crown Victoria to learn how to get out of tight spots and chase down criminals.

“We’re out here to teach them the physics of driving,” said senior training instructor Eric Snowberger. “It doesn’t matter what you drive. If you understand the physics of it, you can drive anything.”

The driving course at the training center has three sections, each designed to teach the students a different technique.

A large circular course was set up with cones made to simulate sharp turns and force students to slow down. The drivers follow the course in a big loop and into a section called “the light bulb,” a sharp U-turn. Then it’s into another curving section that dead-ends and the students have to back out, all the while weaving through cones.

The drivers must complete the course without hitting a cone, and with lights and sirens blaring, in less than four minutes.

Driscoll is so tall that his helmet hits the roof of the car, making it difficult for him to see while backing up, which is where he hit a cone.

“Most students complete it in two to three minutes,” Snowberger said. “It’s more about learning how to control your car while the sirens are going. Most students during the first try with the sirens get so pumped up, they forget to turn.”

Another section teaches the students to swerve and stop, as if someone stepped out in front of their vehicle. They start on a hill and have to reach either 35 or 55 mph, depending on which course they are driving. Then the instructor turns on a red light, and they have to make a last-minute swerve around a cone and stop before the light.

The last section involves maneuvering into and out of tight spots. In the case of accidents or small streets where fire trucks or ambulances might be taking up space, knowing how to back out of a tight spot and parallel park are key, Snowberger said.

The evasive driving part of the academy is not required by the state, Snowberger said, but he feels it is an important skill for new officers to have.

“You learn the limitations of the car,” he said. “It also helps with confidence in driving a police car. If a fellow officer needs help, the first instinct is to get there as fast as you can. You have to learn how quickly you can stop, and how tight you can turn in these cars.”

Nationwide, Snowberger said, more officers have been killed in motor vehicle accidents than anything else this year. He hopes the course will help his students avoid that fate.

“Getting to the scene alive is most important,” he said.

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Riverman1
82026
Points
Riverman1 11/05/12 - 05:24 am
5
1
I learned how to do all that

I learned how to do all that when I was a teenager growing up in SC.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/05/12 - 07:17 am
0
1
This mindset may at issue with road patol.
Unpublished

“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” the 45-year-old said. “Now I get to have fun.” A gun, a uniform, a bat mobile and mucho intimidation factors. Plus the protect and serve stuff., yada yada yada

Also learning to delay arrival at a, none gun related, call to allow the situation to "go away". We didn't set what you described as happening.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/05/12 - 07:19 am
0
1
Earn respect by obeying the law yourself
Unpublished

Driving with turn signals. Making obvious moving violation stops and/or arrest.

wribbs
412
Points
wribbs 11/05/12 - 07:43 am
3
2
Me and my cousin used to run

Me and my cousin used to run from the law all the time, they couldn't drive nearly as good as we could. We learned how to jump over creeks where the bridge had been washed out, that always threw them off our tail. I've seen many times where they couldn't stop in time and ran off in the creek.

My other cousin was so good at out driving them, she could out run them in a Jeep. It was awesome.

My uncle didn't like it, but I know when he was younger, he did the same thing.

tgentry
231
Points
tgentry 11/05/12 - 09:13 am
3
0
lol wribbs

wribbs sounds to me that they should make a tv show with you and your cousin.. lets call it Dukes of Hazzard?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/05/12 - 09:18 am
3
1
Send them over to the South Side

Some of us "real" country boys can teach them some neat Dirt Road rules and tricks.

Like swapping end (u-turn without stopping) on a 1 lane narrow dirt road.

Following Bubba behind a mile long cloud of thick dust.

Negotiating Corn fields with minimal damage to crops or cars.

Judging shot lead time from a moving vehicle while speeding down a bumpy dirt road.

Field Dressing your personal road kill ;-)

itsanotherday1
41729
Points
itsanotherday1 11/05/12 - 11:15 am
3
1
I grew up where there was as

I grew up where there was as much or more mileage of dirt as there was pavement. I only ran from the po-po twice, both successfully. The one in Richmond County (after I moved here in '71) was a close call though. I knew I couldn't outrun the radio with my 455 Grand Prix, so I ran it down through a field and behind a stand of trees before they could get turned around and catch back up.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 11/05/12 - 12:44 pm
2
0
BTDT

1974 Patternson Rd. between Windsor Spring Rd & HWY 88 in my
1970 Dodge 440 Superbee. We use to blow down this road to avoid Hephzibah Sheriff Otts to get to Blythe. I forgot about a cross over road by the Kaolin mine. Launched and landed the car, broke a torsion bar on the right side on impact, ending up backwards in the wet red clay ditch 1/2 full of water.

RC Deputies were different in those days. He pulled up, laugh his tail off for a good minute and then left. Leaving me broke down, nose first in a ditch and miles from a phone in the boonies.

Never go to my 1st and only chance of a date with that young lady.

Justice was swift and hard.

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