The Bakersfield Police Department invited community members to the Kern County Library Thursday evening to show them the training it takes to be an officer, the dangers they face, and the many volatile situations they have to break up.
"It helps them maybe change their perception on their feelings towards law enforcement as far as what we encounter and how we handle things on a daily basis," explained Officer Daniel McAfee, Bakersfield Police Department.
Part of the forum was a role playing scenario. A man pretends to be drunk and demands more beer and dinner from his wife. When the wife threatens to call his mother, he pretends to become abusive with her. Officers let two members of the community play the part of the officers in the fake scenario. But, they told the crowd they deal with situations like this a lot in the city.
"I could see that it could be dangerous for them," said Robert Gomez.
Officers shared sobering statistics from this year's Police Chief Magazine, showing 771 law enforcement officers were killed from 1996 to 2009 during domestic violence incidents. Those cases plus shootings, stabbings, and other calls they deal with daily, they explained, takes years of schooling and training in which to prepare. And, the officers stressed they need a good working relationship with the community in order to do their job at the best level.
"I think that we have to help each other. We have to be the eyes and the ears for the police department and notify them of what's occurring," explained Gomez.
"Today they did show me that they do more than what we just see," said Monica Castro who also attended the forum.
Bakersfield Police officers say they plan to hold more forums this year.