Lansing police Det. Joel Cutler was recently promoted to that rank in the department’s violent crimes unit and just finished his first week on the job.
When did you start as police officer in Lansing?
I started in August of 1996. I’ve been at LPD for 12 1/2 years. During that time I’ve been able to be a mentor as field training officer. I’ve been doing that on and off for about 10 years now, training all the new patrol officers that come in how to do the basic police work — paper work, officer safety. I’ve worked at both the north and south precincts. I’ve also had an opportunity to work with special ops in some pretty in-depth investigations, and I did that for about five years.
How do you become a detective?
We have a vendor that comes into the Police Department. So, every two years the city hires this vendor to have a test, and it’s a tremendous pool of information. They have some books that apply to the job that they want you to read to take questions from about all our policies, procedures and laws. The average study time for the test is three months to a year. It’s really time consuming to study for test. Once you pass, you have to go before boards from the different agencies. Then you’re put on a list and those jobs are filled as vacancies occur.
Wheres the most interesting area to work?
Working in the city, I wouldn’t say there’s a best area or best shift. With police work, the draw to it is that it’s never the same. You never know what you’re going to do. You can go in and have an absolutely boring day, which doesn’t really happen. Or you can have a day where you’re going from complaint to complaint to complaint. Whether it is an armed robbery or burglary or someone just crashes their car.
What has happened so far in your first week as a detective?
I’ve worked on about 10 cases. It’s day five today (Friday). They’re all open investigations.
Did you want to work in the violent crimes unit?
I’ve had a draw to crimes against persons because when someone goes out there and hurts someone and hurts your loved one, it would give me some satisfaction to get that person into the court system and get a resolution to get someone punished for what they’ve done.
Why is it that you don’t see police walking a beat anymore?
A lot of it has to do with call load and you got to have a car to get from point A to point B. Lansing is a big city and we have a lot of officers working. We do in the summer time as weather permits; we have officers on bikes officers that do walk and get out of their cars and do foot patrol.
Was there something that happened in your life that made you want to be a detective?
Not really. I went to college like a lot of kids. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had some friends there that work here — officer Ken Callison. Some folks I met in college kind of steered me toward this. Its really a great fit for my personality.
Whenever I see a police officer, they have one set of handcuffs. If you arrest someone, where do you get more handcuffs?
We have a duty bag that we carry with us. A lot of officers will carry two sets of cuffs on their duty belt. Some officers will only carry one set of cuffs. And they have another set in their bag. We also have flex cuffs.
Do the cuffs get passed around?
You have your own cuffs. All the equipment is provided by the dept. They might get lost or used by another officer, but they always seem to get back to you.