Together, the panel members had over 144 years of experience in law enforcement.
Seventh-graders at Ormond Beach Middle School got the opportunity to ask local law enforcement officers all about their jobs during a Q&A panel spearheaded by the Ormond Beach Police Department in the school's library.
The seven-person panel was made up of Ormond Beach Police Chief Jesse Godfrey, South Daytona Police Lt. Mark Cheatham, Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney, OBPD Capt. Chris Roos, Dayton Beach Police Chief Craig Capri, Chief Gregory Elder, who is the director of campus safety at Bethune-Cookman University, and OBPD Capt. Lisa Rosenthal. Each of them took turns answering the student's most pressing questions, many of them regarding the use of K-9s on the force. The panel was another outreach opportunity for OBPD to get to know the local youths.
Here are three of the most notable questions and answers from that day.
What’s the best thing about being a police officer?
“You’re probably going to think it’s driving fast with the lights and siren, which I got to admit, it’s pretty cool," said Doughney, who the question was directed to. "Locking up bad guys is pretty close to the top of the list."
However, Doughney said the best thing about the job is being able to help people.
“Whether it’s talking to middle school students at Ormond Beach Middle School or working with kids with autism for Surfers for Autism, or taking a child that doesn’t have a whole lot shopping for Christmas, those are the things that people don’t expect us to do that we do on a daily basis that actually gives a chance for us to impact other people’s lives," Doughney said.
He added that law enforcement is a people business, and they love working with kids.
When Godfrey applied for the force in 1998, he said he wrote on his application he wanted to be a cop to help others. Godfrey said that, contrary to popular belief, the donuts are not his favorite thing.
“Just want to throw it out there," Godfrey said. "It is one of the perks of the job, but it’s not about the donuts.”
Is it legal for police to go through our phones without permission?
"The quick and easy answer to that question is no, but there's more to it," Roos said. "The fourth amendment protects you against unlawful searches and seizures by the police or any government official. So in theory, no, we can't just walk up to you and take your phone and go through it without your permission."
However, Roos added that if police believe the phone was used for a crime or criminal activity, they can get a search warrant for the phone — but they need a judge's authorization.
How dangerous do you feel your life is?
"In my 30 years of law enforcement, I would have to say that I never really got seriously injured or hurt," Godfrey said. "I got hurt more off-duty, of all things, riding my bicycle."
Godfrey said he's been in the hospital twice as a result of bike accidents. He tells his loved ones even though he used to jump out of airplanes in the Army, was in Daytona Beach's narcotic squad and was on the SWAT team, he never got hurt on the job.
"Then, I'm on a Saturday morning riding my bicycle, and crash on the loop out here and wind up in the hospital," Godfrey said.
He said a lot of the training and equipment they're given gives them the confidence to face possibly terrifying situations.