#6. Community Police Academy – Traffic and DUI

For 12 weeks, Sherard Edington is taking part in the Community Police Academy offered by the Nashville Police Department. Through lectures and demonstrations, he is learning about the inner workings of law enforcement in Davidson County. These are his reports.

Dear Friends,

My middle school held a weekly assembly where the student body would hear speakers and presentations. I don’t recall the details of these assemblies, but I do remember watching a lot of safety movies. Today, they would be videos, but back then it was movies and narrated film strips.

These grisly safety films are seared into my brain, especially the ones like Mechanized Death (1961) and Highways of Agony (1969) that focused on automobile safety—speeding, reckless driving, seat belts, and drunk driving. These films were notable for their grim narration and graphic photos of gruesome accidents with chilling details such as a baby bottle next to a wrecked car. Looking back, I do wonder if being subjected to these films didn’t border on child abuse.

At Tuesday’s Community Police Academy, I experienced a few jarring middle school flashbacks as the police officers spoke to the class on the topics of traffic safety and DUI. They covered some basic traffic laws involving pedestrians and bicycles. They offered statistics on traffic stops and fatalities. They explained how the department handles traffic violations.

But the memorable part of the evening centered on their descriptions of various fatal accidents these officers had investigated. They wanted to impress upon us that their form of policing dealt with the truest of victims—people doing nothing wrong—and likely doing everything right—when suddenly their lives are taken by a reckless driver.

The evening was a potent reminder of the destructive power we wield when we get behind the wheel.