Suffolk Police school resource officer Andrew Fiorillo recently visited a Huntington High School Personal Law 2 class and gave students a real education.
Widely known as “Officer Drew,” Mr. Fiorillo conducted a mock traffic stop for the law class teenagers, which took on a realistic tone considering he was in full uniform.
“The students set the scenario,” teacher Suzie Biagi said. “A Friday night; 1a.m. on High Street; four friends are coming home after spending the night at one of their houses. Suddenly the patrol lights go on and they are pulled over by a Suffolk Police car.”
The veteran police officer went through the procedures that are followed during a routine traffic stop. He explained each step in the process and why it exists. He shared that among the “tells” he looks for are nervousness, stuttering and “shifting eyes,” which often leads to suspicion about the occupants and or the vehicle and the possibly they have something to hide.
The Personal Law 2 class was just completing a unit on juvenile justice. Laws covering juveniles and crimes common to this age group were explored. “Officer Fiorillo further enhanced the curriculum by reiterating the laws of infancy regarding intent, illustrating ways for the students to protect themselves even when just walking home from school and the proper way to handle ‘being pulled over’ if the occasion was ever to arise for the students,” Mrs. Biagi said.
Mr. Fiorillo was passionate in his request that if a friend is seek or needs help to avoid fear or panic and call 911 as soon as possible. Such a call will never get anyone in trouble and could very well save a life.
Some of Officer Drew’s helpful tips to students were “trust your gut;” “If it doesn’t feel right or safe don’t do it and get out of that situation ASAP;” “Try not to walk alone and if you do, walk with your keys in hand and your ear buds out” and “Even texting while walking is dangerous on two counts because your head is down. You don’t see what’s in front of you and you have no peripheral vision and are not paying attention to your surroundings.”
“Officer Drew’s visit to our classroom was perfect,” Mrs. Biagi said. Students reacted positively to his advice and gained a great deal of insight and new information.
A junior who participated in the mock traffic stop said “my pulse was racing. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears and I started to sweat and really get nervous, but it was great. We need to know what it feels like and to be more careful and learn how to act appropriately. We are taught perception is nine-tenths of everything from the time we are little, but who would have thought that a person would have to worry about ‘perception’ during a traffic stop.”