Robin Lowther approaches the red car tentatively. Tucking a stray hair behind her ear, she leans down to look the driver in the eye and smiles.

"Hi, there. Do you know why I pulled you over, sir?" she queries. As she hurries back to the patrol car, the driver's license and registration in hand, the sheriff's deputy with her gives a reassuring nod."You're doing fine, that was good," he says.

Lowther isn't a deputy or a cadet in training. She is the wife of an officer and one of 28 women enrolled in the Weber County Sheriff's Office Spouses Academy.

The academy is an 11-week, hands-on training course designed to give a firsthand look at what their deputy spouses do each day as they protect and defend the residents of Weber County. Like many law enforcement agencies, the county offers an academy for residents but has never targeted one specifically for spouses. The course is open to both male and female spouses of deputies, but only women were enrolled in the first course.

"We think it's a great idea," said Weber County Sheriff Brad Slater, whose wife of 16 years, Pam, is also in the class. "So much of the stress in this job we take home, whether we want to or not, and it affects our families."

Even something that seems as basic as a traffic stop.

As part of the course, spouses have made traffic stops, trained with the SWAT team, participated in mock trials, searched buildings, fired weapons, been to the jail, worked with police dogs and learned about dealing with domestic cases. In addition, a psychologist and professor from Weber State University spent a night talking about the psychological effects that police work can have on a family.

"I wish we had had something like this 30 years ago," said Gerri Haney, whose husband, Art, is a sergeant and a 29-year veteran of police work. "I think it would have helped me, especially in the early years of our marriage."

Knowing more about the job might have eased the worries she had about her husband getting hurt on the job and the frustrations that come with a shift work schedule, long silences after a particularly hard day and missed family events.

"He's missed his own birthday party," Haney said. "One year, on Christmas Day, we pinned his picture to the chair because he couldn't be there. They do miss a lot."

Haney's son recently became a patrol officer for Weber County as well, so she encouraged her daughter-in-law to take the course with her. Haney thought it would give the couple an advantage that she didn't have.

"I think this information is critical for young brides," she said.

Most of the other women in the class agreed, saying there was a lot more to the job than they anticipated.

"I think I'm seeing it can be a job without many rewards," one woman said. "No one really appreciates them."

Even as a veteran of law enforcement life, Haney said she has learned a lot from the spouse's course.

"I think I know a little more know about why sometimes (Art) can't get to sleep," she said.

All 28 women graduated with honors from the academy March 31, and were presented with plaques by their teacher, Capt. Wes Goldsberry. He is so pleased with the course, he plans to offer it again.

"I think we've underestimated them," Goldsberry said. "We have a tendency to think of them only as our wives, but I'm impressed at what they've picked up on. They've been very attentive and aggressive in our role-playing exercises. They take no hostages.

"Some of them are more aggressive than their husbands."

Many of those husbands told Goldsberry they were surprised that their wives were even interested in the course.

Slater thinks the course is an important investment in his deputies.

"The less they have to worry about problems at home, the better they'll be able to serve the citizens," Slater said. "Hopefully, this will help everyone in the family understand how hard the job can be and how good the officers have to be."

As for Lowther's traffic stop - the experience was much more difficult than she had ever imagined. The stop was set up as part of the course, but she didn't know that.

Turns out the driver was the husband of someone she works with. That made her a little more flustered, she said.

"I was nervous. There was so much more to think about. And you really don't know what kind of situation you're getting yourself into when you walk up to the car," Lowther said.

She ended up only giving the driver a warning, even though he was traveling 14 miles over the posted speed limit. But she did cite him for not having a driver's license with a current address.

Fellow student Tami Jackson, however, had no problem toughening up to a driver with a bad attitude and heavy foot. The man was going 47 mph in a 25 mph zone and refused to roll down his window when she approached the car. He also had an expired insurance certificate.

"I really had no hesitation," she said. She issued him a $300 ticket.