Wednesday, December 4, 2013
My name is David and I’m a recruit from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. I have been requested by Recruit Yost to write a guest blog. Let me share a little about my background; I’m born and raised in Denver. I served in the US Army as a Military Police Officer. I have been working at the Arapahoe County Detention center for the last two years. Although I have some experience, I am learning an immense amount of information.
The academy is intense. From day one you are pushed through the paces. Each day brings its own sets of challenges. Academics, physical training, firearms, arrest control, and driving to name a few. Each recruit has to figure how to conquer those challenges, but you’re not alone. Fellow recruits are your support system. We help each other with academics, uniforms, or even lunch! As a class we’ve developed from a group of individuals to a team.
A great example was our final exams for arrest control included a written and practical test occurred last week. The weeks leading up to the test consisted of practicing our newly acquired “skills” on anyone and everyone. This included family members and friends. My wife certainly knows how to appropriately apply a twist lock, which I regret every day. Walking into the academy on the day of the test was somewhat comical. From the classroom to the bathroom, EVERYONE was practicing some sort of technique. It paid off because everyone passed with flying colors. One more major challenge conquered, on to the next.
DRIVING! Although, I have done a number of different drive tracks it simply never gets old. How many times in your life are you given the keys to a car and are told “drive it like you stole it!”? All joking aside, it’s extremely important to know your limitations and the limitations of the vehicle. In an emergency, we have a duty to get there quickly but more importantly safely. I’m looking forward to learning different ways to push the patrol cars.
Although we only have four more weeks, it’s important to stay focused. The POST test is on the horizon. The upcoming weeks we will continue push and support each other to ensure that everyone passes the first time. It will be challenging, but more importantly it will by rewarding.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Jeffco/LPD Regional Combined Academy Blog:
Weeks 13-17 (a.k.a. 4 WEEKS TO GRADUATION!!!!)
I feel as though the last few blog submissions have either begun with an apology regarding my lack of timeliness or included one in the body of the text… With that said I will just preface the rest of the blogs I write by saying: It has become incredibly difficult to write on a regular basis so I cannot guarantee when the next will come.
Last week, week 16, marked one of the more interesting experiences in my life. I was tased for the first, and hopefully last, time. These 5 seconds of electric agony were slightly exhilarating upon their conclusion. It was such a change in pain to comfort in fact, that I do not remember actually feeling pain. After watching the video of my reaction to getting shot with the probes, I can pretty much guarantee that a high degree of pain was absolutely experienced.
Along with taser training, we completed 6 tests last week. Don’t re-read that too many times, I meant 6 whole tests. We had more tests than days of the week and we all survived! As a matter of fact, I do not believe anyone has failed a test in weeks. We are quickly approaching the end of our testing weeks. One word for that: Yay.
Upon completion of the next 4 weeks, we will be faced with the POST test. The culmination of our time in this program is squeezed into one test and it is pretty terrifying. Luckily, we have great study material and have had great instructors thus far. This academy has a reputation of setting its recruits up for success: 100% success rate in taking the POST test to be exact. That is a comforting fact to know.
Along with POST, we still have one last set of skills to be trained in: Driving! I cannot express in a word how excited I truly am to begin this portion of the academy. I fancy myself an excellent driver (my husband might disagree, but that isn’t credible) and I am curious to test my skills and learn how to become a better, more police-y driver. (I’m sure you will find the term, “police-y” in the next version of Webster’s Dictionary…)
I appreciate all who read of my exploits in the land of Law Enforcement training. Exhausted and out of words, a new feat for me, I bid adieu for now.
Monday, October 7, 2013
The light at the end of the tunnel….
While I realize that a week into the second half of this program is a bit soon to start seeing the finish line, I can’t help but acknowledge that we are getting closer and closer to being sworn in.
We finished our firearms program with 100% pass rate. That is a very exciting fact. After some painstakingly hot and uncomfortable range days, our training paid off. Personally, I have come a very long way from when we first began the program. Some 96 hours later and having expended an inordinate amount of ammunition, we all officially rock.
Typically in these types of social environments you would expect to see cliques form and some dissension amongst the recruits. We have avoided that for the most part. Of course, if you belong to a certain agency you feel a push to associate with others from said agency but we have managed to form a relatively strong bond throughout. The recruit camaraderie been a blessing in the last few weeks as we have seen one recruit leave the program and others get close to that point.
We took another “fit test” this week to gauge how far we have come since the start of the wellness program. We all improved. Some of us improved by leaps and bounds while others made mild improvements but all the same, we are better than before. Since we did so well we are getting some freedoms bestowed upon us by our gracious instructors. Woot!
In other news, we are nearing the portion of the program where we get to be exposed to some less than lethal weapons… Simply put, we are about to get sprayed in the face with OC. I can’t express how anxious I am about it. Being prior military, I spent some time getting “familiarized” with OC in the form of a gas chamber and some sadistic Drill Sergeant’s “OC can on a stick” routine when soldiers found it difficult to stay awake. I want to make sure I am being clear in my tone: I am legitimately nervous because of my previous encounters with OC, but I understand the relevance of this impending exercise and I am attempting to put a facetious spin on my anxiety.
In summation, same rules apply: don’t get lazy, don’t be arrogant, keep learning…
I’ll let you know how I handle my stint with the spray.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
As we reach the end of week 8 in the Academy, I look back at where we were in the beginning and reflect on how far we’ve come. From a disheveled group of undisciplined strangers to a tight group of recruits who are beginning to look and act with confidence, we are making great strides toward our common goal.
Over the past few weeks we have had a rather large helping of firearms and arrest control. We have honed our skills on the range, receiving training skills and advice from some of the state’s foremost shooters in the LE community. Some of us have progressed from never drawing from a holster, to drawing in less than 2 seconds and delivering perfect shots from 25 yards. While the heat has been a challenge, I can say that everyone has enjoyed this part of the training and worked very hard to impress our instructors and meet their expectations.
We have also spent a fair amount of time these last few weeks learning about proper arrest control and officer safety techniques. We get the best training from highly experienced officers, who are dedicated to passing along the lessons and techniques that have been honed over decades of service. These are skills that will ensure that we “Go Home”, each and every night, to our families and loved ones. They ensure that no matter what type of evil we encounter, we have the skills to defeat it and keep the streets of our beat safe and friendly.
In the weeks to come we will continue to learn and apply our knowledge of the Colorado Criminal Code, and continue to test our newly honed skills in real life emergency scenarios. We will continue to learn about each other, and how each of us is responsible for our brothers and sisters. We will test our resolve against the forces of crime, and illuminate our duty to protect all members of our community. This is why we are here, and this is why we will succeed as a class of recruits.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 marked our half way point… While the first few weeks went by slowly (in an overwhelming way), the last 4-6 have flown by so fast I’ve often forgotten the day of the week.
Since this is a milestone week, I made sure I set aside an appropriate amount of time to mark the occasion via blog. That being said, when I say “appropriate amount of time,” I mean approximately ten minutes because that is all I could do this week. My excuse: I have quite a bit of writing to do for class. I’ll conclude my disclaimer with an apology for the brevity and lack of detail in the below paragraphs.
Firearms training went from crawl to walk and finally to run in what seemed like minutes (weeks = actual time frame for the transition). In this relatively short time we’ve had at the range, my firearms skills have increased significantly. I came into this portion of the program with some deeply imbedded bad habits. It was a rough time breaking myself of them but once I did, I quickly became a better shooter. It’s the same story with our arrest training.
Arrest Control is one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve had in the Academy. We get to do ground and bag work (punching bags) and I’ve determined that it is to me as yoga is to a yogi; it’s almost meditative. It is one of the most effective ways to release the stress of the week(s). This is a totally controlled environment, so it’s safe. At the same time it is the most freeing thing we can do at this point. Honestly, I don’t think you even have to be good for it to relieve some stress. Maybe others would disagree; I can’t speak for my classmates… Of course, like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get and the goal here is to improve.
Until next time...
Since last I shared my experience, several… ahem…learning experiences have come and gone. That being said, I have dubbed these last few weeks, “My exercise in failure.” It sounds harsh and slightly cynical, I know, but don’t worry; I can explain why it is actually positive and fitting in a good way. Here I go…
In the classroom, I have a system. I memorize, take notes, write flashcards, organize/compose my thoughts, and clarify any issues. Outside the classroom, I stutter, hesitate, and question every move I make because sheer memorization isn’t gonna cut it anymore (yes I understand “gonna” is not proper English).
Leaving the comforts of the familiar classroom environment to practical scenarios rocked my world. It has definitely made the Academy more real than ever. It’s one thing to hear an instructor explain a theory, it’s a whole different animal to put that theory (that you know verbatim per Colorado Revised Statues) to practice.
At first, moving into attempting to act in a police capacity (faux scenarios of course) seemed contrived. We were given instructions via “dispatch” and we responded accordingly to law enforcement officers acting in the roles assigned to them. It’s tough to mentally prepare yourself to “arrest” a sworn officer who has been leading our PT sessions or has instructed other various courses. Once you convince yourself that the situation you are going into is as real as it can get in this environment, you can think a lot more like a cop and put the skills you know into motion.
I’ve said several times before that you can’t get through this with the mind set of “I know everything,” or “I’m infallible,” but I have been a tad hypocritical lately. Since last I wrote, I have had to take my own advice, eat crow, grab a big-ole slice of humble pie, etc…. I have never been one to claim to be all knowing, but after having so much knowledge thrust upon me in the classroom, I thought I had this on lock down. Lesson learned. Making the mistakes that I have been allowed to make has been wildly helpful. I’m grateful for the opportunity to mess up in a safe place so that I may have the opportunity to fix what I’ve been made aware of.
Bottom line: we all make mistakes; it’s how you respond after that makes the difference. I could allow this to take my morale out or plaster a permanent frown to my face, but that would not only be less than beneficial to my future contacts in this career, but it would make me stagnate. Take it, learn from it, fix it, drive on.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Jefferson County/Lakewood Academy, weeks 4-6: As seen from the front leaning rest (a.k.a. push-up) position…
After a brief break in communication, I finally feel as though I have been allotted enough time and energy to complete the next in my series of Academy chronicles.
We have ventured into the land of practical application. Now that we have established a foundation of criminal/legal theory, we can build up and out via applying our knowledge to realistic scenarios. The next few building blocks were handed out in typical “crawl-walk-run,” fashion, but it still feels as though time is passing at a rapid rate. There have not been enough hours in the day to complete all that I would like to, so the routine I developed during the first few weeks has become quite paramount in recent days past.
I’m going to break the rest of this down by topic since I’m running a few weeks behind:
Report Writing- I have always fancied myself a recreational writer; I enjoy corresponding through good, old-fashioned, written word. That being said, I have never stressed myself out about writing a few paragraphs more than I have since this foray into police-style writing began. We have some excellent instructors in this section, but I am finding it a struggle to reintroduce myself to no-nonsense writing. How do I get a point across without the use of superfluous vocabulary and mild hyperbole???
Firearms Training- First, a key point I would like to offer those who have come from a military background: don’t act like you know everything… There is always more knowledge to be gained. If you go into this training with a closed mind, the time will crawl and you will plateau faster than the “noobs” (get it? It means newbies). I am only mentioning this because I went into this with a few bad habits I picked up courtesy of my military experience and I am having to face my flaws head on and fix them as quickly as possible. Fun Fact: one of the instructors has actually been able to trick me into shooting better. What?! I never thought that was possible.
Arrest Control- There is not much more I can say about this training than, “ouch!” I have checked my pride (necessary! If I had not, I would be in a constant state of embarrassment as I learn this stuff) and started from scratch. I can’t say I am confident in my knowledge at this point in time, but I can see myself being secure in my skills by the time this is over (if not sooner).
Tests: Testing is becoming increasingly more difficult as the time to study is decreasing in availability. Time management is crucial at this juncture in the Academy. Whatever your study habits are or were, you will have to step it up to keep your head above water in this environment. I haven’t gone a day without studying the classroom material in some way or another. I’ve started to annoy my friends and family with my new found knowledge. Suffice it to say, Law and Order is not allowed in my house anymore.
Standards/Classroom: As time goes on, human nature kicks in and we open ourselves up for error. I guess it’s just a natural part of any learning experience in a field like this. Even in their smallest form, laziness and arrogance can be two attitudes that compromise safety in a way that none of us can afford. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but complacency is one thing that these instructors will not allow. We are offered… gentle… reminders when we lapse in our vigilance. I’ve taken to preparing myself mentally to “sweat for our sins” on a daily basis so that I am never surprised during a corrective run/pushup and squat-fest.
In the three weeks since I last wrote, I have felt more exhausted, overwhelmed, and overloaded than I have ever felt before. Conversely, I have never learned as much, felt as accomplished, and had as much fun in this short amount of time. No change in attitude for this recruit. I am still happy to be here, lucky to be chosen for this career, and excited for the future.