MODESTO — Outfitted with a bulletproof vest and a prop gun, Theresa Reyna used the patrol car's public-address system to bark orders at the bad guy. After cuffing the suspect, she patted his legs, chest and ankles in a polite search big mistake.
He whipped out a knife hidden in his underwear as she leaned to open the car door.
But Reyna didn't die, or even bleed. In fact, the worst that could have happened to her was getting a bad grade on her public-safety final.
The Modesto High senior got a valuable lesson, however one that instructor Joe Silva learned as a rookie police officer. Silva recalled a time when he decorously passed on patting a female suspect's chest, only to have a semi-automatic handgun fall out of her bra.
"This may be your life. You're jeopardizing yourself," Silva said, then grinned. Teens have a tough time getting past that modesty issue he gets that, he said.
What he was looking for was effort and commitment as 26 teens simulated traffic stops, dragged 165-pound dummies and practiced cuffing each other.
"Are you really trying as hard as you can?" said Silva, a veteran of 20 years with the Modesto Police Department and 17 years as Davis High School instructor for the Public Safety Academy and Regional Occupation Program.
The final was held on the grounds of the Institute of Technology, which shared its instructors, patrol car and a life-size video surround to simulate emergencies. In one scene, Enochs senior Eduardo Romero missed his one crucial laser shot and the video gunman killed the victim. The time before, it had worked, Romero said.
Tough lesson, said IT instructor Larry Johnson. "It's not always the same. In real life, it's not the same," he said.
Romero plans to go into law enforcement. Classmate Araceli Gardenas, a Johansen senior, said she's hoping to work with inmates. Both plan to start at Modesto Junior College in the fall.
Friday was the ROP final, bringing together seniors from Modesto City high schools and others. Everyone passed the practical final, Silva said.
In a class that's largely book work, he said, "you have to throw in some hands-on. Keeps 'em interested."