Daddy was too busy with our secret project for Doors Open Ottawa this weekend, but Elizabeth, Matthew, and I managed to drag Aidan, Caitlin, Dianne and Janice off to visit the Ottawa Police Service Professional Development Centre.
I'd heard "the police" were kid friendly, but this location wasn't one of the most kid friendly Doors Open Ottawa events. When we arrived we were immediately invited on a tour of the facility. The tour was on the long side (roughly 25 min per station and there were four).
I don't recall much about the power point presentation they started with as I was too busy trying to keep Elizabeth entertained and quiet. The second station was more fun at first as we were invited into the shooting range. A few minutes later we were invited to leave as the presentation was "not suitable for children under the age of ten" and "contains graphic images". I was sort of impressed; the cops certainly didn't give us any option to stay. But then they left us (and four kids under the age of five) sitting outside the shooting range in an empty room for fifteen minutes while we waited for the demo to finish. The guy supervising us was kind of apologetic, saying that they try to think of ways to make their doors open event more "kid friendly" every year but that use-of-force training is inherently a mature topic. And I see his point.
Luckily things improved dramatically from there. The next stop showed us how they learn to put on handcuffs, avoid shooting each other during training (they have to hand over all weapons - and boy do they carry a lot of gear!), deal with a knife-wielding suspect (they usually use fake plastic ones, but they also use a cool knife that gives electric shocks to keep the police on their toes while training) and use a baton. We all got a chance to pepper spray the dummy on the wall, using water for training. Apparently the cops get pepper sprayed as part of training on a regular basis. The trainers said this was their least favourite part! I was interested to learn that pepper spray isn't as effective for those who are extremely high, drunk or mentally ill. At least according to the trainer.
Last we went to their training apartment and got to see the equipment they use to break down doors. Overall we enjoyed our visit but I still felt like they could have done better (the first two stations on the tour should just have been skipped for those with younger kids, if they couldn't come up with something appropriate) Outside was perhaps the best part of the event. Elizabeth was given a flashlight (instant verdict? The police are awesome!) All kinds of police vehicles - boats, motorcycles, ATVs etc were available to climb into. Then Motorcycle cop gave the kids their very first ticket. They were sooo happy. The adults were all very amused.
Then we went to McDonald's for lunch. They must have revamped their menu since we last went because I was expecting the standard hamburger versus chicken nuggets and was a little nonplussed to discover Happy Meals now include yoghurt. Elizabeth gave me a proud mama feeling when she picked apple slices over fries, although I know rationally it had nothing to do with my parenting skills and everything to do with not loving potatoes!
We've been to OC Transpo's maintenance facility's Doors Open event twice before (2011, 2012), but Elizabeth insisted that we go again. This year there was a little less Presto hype and our bus wash was in a double decker bus. They also had a whole pile of new vehicles to climb into. I have to say - I had no idea that OC Transpo has its own snow clearing and lawn cutting equipment. Elizabeth isn't sleeping with her paper bus this year but she did carefully put away her latest version "so that Xander can't break it". We couldn't hear the tour as well from the upper deck of the bus as compared to the regular version, but by far the most informative tour was the one done by the manager guy in 2011.