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Part two: Alexandria cop and ATCC law graduate talk conflicts and resolutions

This is a continuation of the Echo Press interview with Alexandria Police Sergeant Brian Kakach and Alexandria Technical and Community College law enforcement graduate Jack Anderson. They discuss systemic racism, no-knock warrants, defund the police and the relationship between the police department and the Alexandria community.

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Two law enforcement affiliates sat down with the Echo Press for an interview featured on the newspaper's Talk of the Town podcast on Friday, May 6, 2022. The podcast can be found on the Echo's website under the podcast tab and Apple Music, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Audible. From left, Jack Anderson, Brian Kakach and Thalen Zimmerman
Lynn Mounsdon / Alexandria Echo Press
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Editor's note: The following is the conclusion of a two-part series featuring the conversation between Alexandria Police Seargent Brian Kakach and 2022 Alexandria Technical and Community College law enforcement graduate Jack Anderson.

ALEXANDRIA — An Alexandria police sergeant and a law enforcement graduate discussed conflicts, resolution and community trust of police officers on Friday, May 6, for the Echo Press "Talk of the Town" podcast.

Alexandria Police Sergeant Brian Kakach and Alexandria Technical and Community College law enforcement graduate Jack Anderson sat down with the Echo Press to discuss the training and responsibilities of police officers while providing background on themselves.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to parts one and two of the interview in podcast form by going to https://www.echopress.com/echo-press-minute , or by downloading the episode on the Echo Press Minute Podcast through Spotify , Apple Music , Google Podcasts , and Audible .

I don't think there's anybody cops hate more than bad cops.
Jack Anderson

Q: How are you taught to deescalate a situation where a person may be acting hostile but has not yet become violent?

Kakach: So the number one thing to do is keep yourself calm. And realize that a lot of times, people are not necessarily mad at me personally. Something that I started to do when I arrive on a scene and somebody is really worked up or if two people are arguing – it's not against the law, that's fine, they're allowed to do that. I can stand there to keep people safe in case it does escalate to a violent event — I listen to understand what the argument is about or why this person is so angry and gather just the details and kind of figure out what does help look like to them right now; what do they need. I can let them vent for a while if they need to. If they're going to come after me, I need to keep myself safe. But again, just staying calm, having a calm voice and talking to them like a normal human being. I don't need to tell them to calm down. They can yell and be loud for a little while and work it out themselves.

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Anderson: Yeah, I'd have to agree. With my training, the biggest things have been providing options. Giving options to somebody who's aggressive but not violent can help them feel in control and bring them down. Treat people with respect, keep yourself calm, be a model for how somebody should be acting and then empathize with that person, understanding that you're with them at, likely, the worst time in their life.

Q: What are no-knock warrants? How do they affect the job?

Kakach: A no-knock warrant is a search warrant authorizing police officers to enter a certain premise without knocking and announcing their presence first. We're going to do this because we don't want to compromise the safety of the police and others as we approach or enter. And, of course, there's the destruction of property or the object that we're looking for in the search warrant; it gives people time to destroy drugs or whatever we're looking for. We don't always know what's on either side of that door. Therefore, if we have a no knock warrant, it's usually the SWAT team going in, which already means it's a pretty dangerous situation. And we need the upper hand.

Ultimately, we try to evolve with the times. If we don't need to do a no knock warrant, we don't want to do it. If there are other tricks or tactics, or just another way to go about it, we will try that. Also, no knock warrants aren't something that we do very often. We do know the danger to them.

Q: Have you seen an effect in recruitment or retention during the call to defund the police?

Kakach: I think our numbers are declining. We're seeing it in how many people apply for the open positions, but it's been going on even before the defund the police movement. Back when I got into the career, there were about 100 applicants... Now we're seeing a lot less people apply for the positions. I've even heard communities with more open positions than they can even get applicants for. Luckily, with Alexandria, we're a desirable place to live and work. Our community supports us even through the defunding police movement. We still get people applying with us, and we still get really good quality candidates.

Overall, it's not a positive thing for law enforcement. But, it gives us time to step back and rethink what we're doing and how we're doing it. If people really do defund the police, you're going to have less police on the street, and you're going to have much longer response times. Ultimately, we're going to respond to less types of things. We don't just respond to crimes. We go to traffic crashes, we do female escorts, we do lift assists and if we don't have the staff to do it, these are the things that we're just not going to be able to do.

Q: What is your response to those who say there is systemic racism within police departments?

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Anderson: I don't think there's anybody cops hate more than bad cops. A bad representation is something that we're all going to despise and be against. Unfortunately, the media will push that forward because they have a runtime that they have to sell.

Kakach: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. We often talk in our department, and we go through explicit, implicit training quite a bit. If we see an officer do something or say something, we're going to step in and make sure that it doesn't happen.

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Sgt. Brian Kakach with the Alexandria Police Department was surprised by the number of DWI arrests in 2020 versus 2019 because of bars and restaurants being closed per governor's orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Echo Press file photo)

Q: What is the best way to address the stigma of cops?

Kakach: Number one is transparency. Be open with the community, and have engagements with the community. At the Alexandria Police Department, we're always open. If people want to see us or talk to us, they are always welcome to call or come in.

Q: What is something you wish civilians understood about the duties of police officers?

Kakach: One thing is, the police don't make the laws. We enforce the laws, even those we disagree with or don't like; we all have our own opinions on things. And a lot of people get upset at us for letting somebody out of jail. We don't let people out of jail. We bring them to jail.

Another thing we hear sometimes is, ‘The police didn't do anything.’ In some cases, there just isn't enough evidence. There are a number of reasons that we weren't able to help you. A lot of people call us for civil matters, which is different than a criminal matter. The police deal with criminal matters. We can't really get involved in too many civil matters. We can advise people that 'Hey, this is a civil matter, and this is how you need to take care of that, and this is what you need to do.’ So we're always willing to advise on how to move forward.

Anderson: I wish more people knew case law, such as Pennsylvania versus Mimms or Maryland versus Wilson, where an officer can legally require you to step out of your vehicle. And the rights that you have, such as, if somebody is involved in a criminal matter, you have the right to identify them. They don't have to answer questions beyond that, but they are required to provide identification.

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Q: How would you describe the relationship between the Alexandria Police Department and the community?

Kakach: I think we have a very positive interaction with the community. A lot of places, even just between the other agencies, don't always get along for political reasons. When I came here, I was very happy to see that we get along very well with our sheriff's office, the State Patrol and the fire department. We are all community members. And again, I think it comes back to a lot of our officers work and live here. We have personal contacts with people and professional contacts with people. We're always available, and we're always out there. We do have extra time to spend with people when they need it. Sometimes we are busy, and we can't, but for the most part, we can, or we can come back to it or call them back.

Overall, I think it's very positive. We realize that there's always room for improvement. And we're always open to ideas on what we can do to be there for the community.

We do something called the Citizens Police Academy that allows people to get a real deep dive into what we do. It's a very positive thing, and it really opens a lot of people's eyes to what we do.

Q: The most rewarding part about being a police officer?

Kakach: I've helped domestic victims, and years later, I run into them, and they will tell me the changes in their life and how impactful that contact was for them. I had no idea because I just go to the next call and hope for the best.

I had a guy that I arrested for a DWI. He was very mean and rude to me and did not cooperate during the process. It was a challenge. I saw him years later. He came up to me and apologized. He said, ‘I remember I treated you so poorly. I'm sorry for that. I really want you to know that I have not had anything to drink since that night. I changed my life around.’ Those are things that we just never really know until somebody steps up and tells us. Of course, that doesn't always happen. But it's just nice to hear when somebody is willing to tell us those things.

It's a very rewarding career, even though negative things pop up here and there. But again, Alexandria is a great community. People desire to work here and live here. So my experience here is very different from officers in other areas that aren't as desirable.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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