Tuesday 11th April 2017

Today was a really great day. I got up at 8.30 and went for a run and then to the beach, then came back and had breakfast. Karen went out to the shops while Alan and I got ready and then we all went in the car and I drove everyone up to Palm Peach Gardens to John and Evelyn’s house. We met Evelyn there and sat and chatted for a while and then Alan and I got back in the car and drove back down to West Palm Beach Police Department where we had a tour of the police office planned, arranged via John.

Captain Joe Ahern showed us round and there was much more involved in the tour than I had imagined – it was really great! He enlisted several officers to show us the different areas of the department: first of all, firearms: we saw lots of different guns, including assault rifles and sniper rifles. Alan tried on the full combat gear and we both got to hold the rifles. We also saw battering ramps and the surveillance scopes used by sniper spotters. we then saw the inside of a SWAT vehicle, a bombs squad vehicle and Alan got to control the remote controlled robot that helps officers to detect bombs. We then saw a Harley Davidson police motorcycle and Alan got to sit on it, guided by the motorcycle cop. We saw body cameras, the call receiver room and the holding cells where offenders are held before being sent to jail. Finally the best part of the tour was the simulation training room. Alan and I got to observe the simulation training that officers engage in. This was really great and was a fantastic opportunity to see the way American police officers are trained, where they are encouraged first and foremost to use communication skills to de-escalate situations that arise and also to know if and went they may need to use firearms should potential situations arise that require it.

Alan left the office with a bag full of goodies, including a West Palm Beach Police Department badge, various coins and a toy car. It was a truly fantastic experience – well, at least it was for his dad anyway!

After this we went back to John and Evelyn’s house. Karen and Evelyn had gone to the mall for a while and by the time we were back John was home and made us some lovely mojito cocktails. We sat at the back at the pool and had some appetisers. Then we walked across to John’s boat and Alan fed the large turtles which are in the water there. They are huge and so hungry for any snacks you can feel them! We walked all around the water with their dog and then back to their house. Later, we went to a local restaurant near to the Smyklas’ home and had a lovely meal there. It was an idyllic setting, looking over the water and the boats. We came out of the restaurant around 9pm and Karen and Alan said their goodbyes to the Smyklas. As always it was a wonderful evening with them and it is hard to believe that is the last time that Karen and Alan will see them this trip.

we drove home and arrived back at the villa for just before 10pm.

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