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Friday night was crazy.

First, I got into a fight with my girlfriend, who was calling my brother a dead beat. He lives on the couch, but it’s just until he gets back on his feet. I tried to tell the stupid girl that, but she wouldn’t listen and called the cops.

Later, I was at a party and the cops got called again. Turns out a buddy of mine was wanted on a warrant, so they came in and booked him. We tried to stop the cops, and I ended up getting cuffed. Pigs…

After that, I was driving and me and Mike got pulled over. We weren’t even going that fast, but the cop got all serious. Then I guess he saw the bag of weed on the dash. I was arrested outside of the vehicle, and Mike tried to toss the rest of the drugs and his gun out the window. Too bad the cop saw it on the side of the road.

When that was all done, class was over.

New officer Ross Johnson, left, deals with Sgt. Jeff McCormack, who is acting as a suspect here. I took this with my BlackBerry, which was knocked out of my hand. Guess you can't interfere at a crime scene.


All that mayhem was part of new-officer training for Ross Johnson, who is the newest member of the Austin Police Department. Ross was sworn in two weeks ago, and Friday marked the end of his two-week “in-house” training. Starting Wednesday, he’ll shadow a fellow officer on the streets. He’ll do that for about three months before going solo.

Beyond the live-action scenarios (which involved me as well as a few other veteran officers), Ross trained with a virtual-scenario program that threw a number of different perps at him on the screen. The coolest thing about that was the interactivity — Ross could “shoot” if necessary, as well as use a flashlight, which “lit up” parts of the dark screen at “night.”

In charge of the training was Lt. Rene Phan, who said he looks for officers to treat the situations as realistically as possible.

I fought with officer Johnson before my last arrest. Yeah, he roughed me up a bit and cuffed me. Awesome.


Phan emphasized officer safety throughout the night, but also went over things like arrest tactics and the proper (and legal) times to enter a home.

After the last big arrest of the night (I tried pulling a gun on officer Johnson while in my car, then wrestled with him when he got out the cuffs), Phan said his student was making a lot of progress.

“I think he’s doing really well,” the lieutenant said. “We accomplished a lot.”

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To finish that headline, let me just say citizens and reporters alike would be abuzz. I’m referring to the fact that the city’s police chief and fire chief both retired in the last two months — both amid internal investigations that have raised serious questions regarding the departments.

Let me repeat: the city of Austin, Minn., is without a full-time police or fire chief at the moment, and each department has somewhat of a black eye, at least from the public’s perspective.

Imagine Tim Dolan announcing tomorrow he plans to quit, with rumors circulating about an alleged sex scandal (a pure hypothetical on my part). Then, a week later, Alex Jackson says he’s gone because of a fight with another firefighter (again, hypothetical). What would Minnepolitans be saying?

And all of this is happening in Austin on top of a police captain being ousted on a drug conviction, ongoing tension between some citizens and Hormel for a questionable hiring process (see: undocumented workers) and the threat of huge state cuts via another unallotment.

But Austin isn’t Minneapolis, so these concerns will never make the same kind of headlines as they would in the big city. However, just ask yourself how the story would play in the metro.

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