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The Huntsville Police Department’s new Academy class is underway, with the 18-week process ending in July. We’ll regularly follow four members as they share their stories of the Academy

Today: Curtis Mitchell, 21, from Chicago, who served as a military policeman in Army Reserves, with recent deployment at Guantanamo Bay, shares his observations with CityBlog senior writer Mark McCarter.

The last time we talked, we were finishing up on the firing range back in April. We’ve done a lot since then. We’ve had building-clearing, active-shooter training, we learned about felony take-downs — basically talking a suspect out of the vehicle while staying safe, then properly securing him and searching him – and driving courses.

I loved the driving part. That was definitely some of the best training we’ve done so far. When we go out and do the real-world training, I like that.

We’ve had a lot more classroom things lately. It’s been more mental than physical. There’s been a lot of information. It’s been busy, but it’s been flying by. We do have to retain a lot of information but sometimes we have to remember not to over-think things that are just obvious. Sometimes we need to keep it simple, I guess.

We just had a big session about domestic violence. They said about 50 percent of our calls will be related to domestic violence. They were going over what qualifies as domestic violence and what causes it, so we’re not going into every situation blind.

We learned that the main abuser usually has a constant cycle of abuse. So we learn how to talk to them in the situations and about giving the victims help. The ladies that interview victims of domestic violence taught part of the course and we had the Special Victims Unit teaching us.

They stressed how dangerous those situations are for us. Every officer we’ve encountered has told us, whatever you do be, safe. Look out for your brothers and sisters and make sure you make it home at the end of the night. They talk about officer safety situation awareness. When we handle a domestic violence case, we’re not supposed to do that by ourselves. We’re always supposed to have a partner. We’re going into the suspects’ home. It’s their territory. They know where everything is.

Graduation is getting a little closer. We’re so busy, we didn’t have Memorial Day off like most everybody else. But I’m military, so I’m used to that.

Memorial Day, to me, is honoring those that have died for us. I saw a Facebook video earlier. It said something like “Because of them being on the beach, this is why we’re on the beach.” It had the World War II soldiers running onto the beach at D-Day, then it had a family and friends on a beach, enjoying the sun. It put it in perspective. This is what they do so you can enjoy everything you do.