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ROP students exercise brings point home
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There’s no such thing as a routine traffic stop.

Students in the Regional Occupational Program’s Careers in Law Enforcement classes learned just that not too long ago during a California Highway Patrol training exercise.

On Monday, Joe Waller, the instructor of the classes taught at Lindbergh and New Vision education centers, talked about the incident involving a parolee who killed three Oakland police officers and left a fourth brain-dead over the weekend.

Lovelle Mixon, 26, opened fire on the officers after a “routine traffic stop,” according to the Associated Press story.

Mixon was released from prison in November on a conviction of assault with a deadly weapon. State prison officials say he was also a suspect in a murder case year ago but was never charged and, according to Oakland police, was a probable match in an unsolved rape case.

Mixon, incidentally, was killed in a gun battle after a massive hunt.

Meanwhile, Waller noted his students were able to connect with the dangers that police go through in the line of duty.

“The (CHP) training exercise may have been make believe but the scenarios were very real,” he said.

His students now know that to be a fact.

 Ask Megan Kaplan, who was caught off guard by the element of surprise during the scenario involving the motorist with a disabled vehicle.

“It’s tough (approaching the suspect) and it can be scary,” the ROP student said.

Waller indicated his students received classroom instructions and on-the-spot instructions from CHP officers.

“Keeping a cool head is important,” he said.

Omar Ornelas, who, like Kaplan, is also in Waller’s afternoon session. He, too, found out that it’s best not to be rattled when dealing with a belligerent suspect.

He was ‘shot’ in the neck during the stranded motorist exercise as the suspect managed to draw his concealed weapon.

In each of the scenarios – the other two involved students trying to control a pedestrian with erratic behavior and arresting a dangerous suspect during a traffic stop – officers employed toy guns as their weapons.

Students sampled the very same exercises used by officers at the training academy.

However, there was one exception.

“At the academy, we would go through the same drills over and over again,” CHP officer Mark McMahon said.

The ROP students had just the day to go through the scenarios. But they came away with the understanding that an officer’s life is always in jeopardy.

In turn, many in his classes were able to take solace of the tragic events in Oakland, according to Waller.