Have you ever wondered how it is Police Officers know that people are drunk just by looking at their eyes or watching them walk on a line during a field sobriety test?
When I took the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Citizen’s Academy last year, I found out exactly how this is done: they practice, with volunteers. The police cadets learn how to conduct sobriety tests with “real live drunk people” who are local citizens who volunteer to be picked up by the police van, and driven over to the police station, and, you guessed it: drink so much liquor that they become drunk. Not just tipsy drunk either—so drunk that they’re above the legal limit for driving and have all the symptoms of someone who’s lost control of their motor skills.
The police-in-training talk to these drunk volunteers, watch their behavior, listen to their responses, watch how their eyeballs jerk (using something called a Nystagmus test), then make them recite the alphabet backwards, count down from 10 to 1, etc.
We were all howling with laughter at the citizen’s academy when we learned about this, especially when we were told that sometimes the volunteers don’t get drunk enough, so the police tell them they need to drink more. They have to be so drunk that they can’t walk straight or it doesn’t help.
When it’s all done, the police van then loads them all up and takes them back home. Everybody’s happy. The police have gained valuable real-life experience in a controlled environment, and the citizens have just helped fight crime in no small manner by getting smashed at the police station with free booze AND a free ride home. All in the name of civic duty! What a way to volunteer, eh? I’m not a big drinker, and I’ve never drunk so much I can’t walk straight, but if anybody ever wants a hilarious story to tell your friends and family, let’s go volunteer for this together. And to make it even better, let’s take some time off work for this, shall we? Make sure you tell your boss exactly why you need the time off.