December 7, 2012

Week twenty-Now Real

I feel it is safe to say the final week was as stressful as the first week. 

Not only did we have to spend a day in the courthouse for a mock trial and get drilled on the stand, we had our POST test scheduled, we had family and friends coming in town, and we were graduating!

The day at the courthouse was a blast, but the line of the day came when the entire class of 41 was getting a tour of the courthouse and while we were standing along the side of the hallway in single file in our agency uniforms to let people pass, a civilian walked by and said, "are ALL of you in trouble?"

He was joking, but his wife said, "they look awesome."  I happened to be standing toward the end of the line and she was right.  We looked awesome.

Once we finished our mock courtroom day, we started turning in our Academy items. 

Each day we each got a bit more anxious.

Test day finally arrived.  We couldn't think straight from the time we arrived that morning at 7am until we began the test!  This test was what we had been studying our tails off for weeks and weeks!

We all finished the test, but the results aren't known until later.

The rest of the day we were to run Lookout Mountain as a team but we all knew the run would be more fun if we knew our test results!

Finally, as we were all stretching for our run, the results were in...we all passed! 

Talk about a feeling of relief like none of us have ever felt.  We were all so excited for each other we hugged, laughed, cheered, high fived.  The enthusiasm was not as much because we all passed as much as it was those being the words that did it!

All that was going through our heads...we did it! 

I have never been so excited to run up a mountain in my life.  It is tradition for academies to finish at the top of Lookout Mountain, and we did. 

Now that the test was over, and the run was almost finished, we all could focus on graduation and getting our friends and families where they needed to be for the ceremony.

Some days we felt like we were never going to graduate.  Some days seemed to take FOREVER to finish, some weeks took an eternity to get through, but sitting on the stage during graduation I remember thinking, "it seems like we just started."

There we were...the final week of the first ever Combined Regional Academy.  Everything seemed surreal.  On Monday we would not be in the classroom together.  The fact that everything we have been learning is now real.  No more role players.  No more climate control environment.  No more 10 minute breaks every hour on the hour. 

Sitting as a class one last time at graduation watching each other get our badges was exciting and emotional at the same time.  We were so proud of each other it was as if we were at each other's graduation ceremony as an outsider looking in, until your name was called!  Then the, "this is really happening," and the, "whatever you do, don't trip," starts going through your head.

The ceremony with my classmates was an event and moment I will cherish forever.

To the first ever Jeffco/Lakewood Combined Regional Academy...we did it.  Congratulations and best of luck to all of you. 

To those of you who are considering law enforcement as a takes discipline, commitment, sacrifices, integrity.  You can do it, just like we did it.

November 30, 2012

Week nineteen-Oleoresin Capsicum!

Oleoresin Capsicum! 

What does that mean?

It means....Ohhhhh Crappppp! (family version)

This week we got to experience being OC sprayed.  For those of you unfamiliar with what that means, it means RUN! 

It is pepper spray in your eyes, nose, and mouth.  OC, like taser, was an experience like no other in the academy. 

Each of us had an "escort" or a "buddy" to assist after being sprayed as we each completed required tasks consisting of a little bit of physical work and apprehending a suspect using our arrest control techniques.  The purpose of completing a required task immediately after being sprayed in the face with OC was to overcome the pain and prove that a task can be completed while enduring extreme pain.

I went first. 

My 40 classmates anxiously awaited what is to come their way.  The looks on their faces were anxiety, nervousness, and curiosity.  Once they started chanting "Schwartz, Schwartz, Schwartz" it was on!  I had no choice but to put my game face on and take the spray like a champ.

There we were.  The instructor...the OC....and me, staring directly at the canister.  I said, "okay," and before I knew it there was spray shooting in my eye.  It was like slow motion as the spray shot from the canister. 

"Ohhhhhhh Crapppppp," (family version) was going through my head.

My initial reaction was to run out of my skin.  The staff immediately put a stop to that nonsense.  Adrenaline shooting through my veins the OC did not hit me until about 20 seconds after.  After that I remember thinking, "this is worse than being tased,"  and if you have read any of my prior blogs you will know how much I disliked being tased.  Each recruit handled OC day like warriors!

Some of the recruits compared the feeling of being OC sprayed to:
"putting peroxide on a cut, but on your face for an hour"
"pouring gasoline on your face then lighting it on fire for an hour"
"the worst sunburn you have ever had"
"the worst carpet burn ever on the side of your face."

I pulled an Ace Ventura and drove home with my head out of the window to let the air decontaminate my eyes.

The best and only advice I will give to bad guys, anyone who is becoming a bad guy, or any of you who know a bad guy...COMPLY.

This week we also did a CrossFit workout that is a gut check WOD (workout of the day).  The best advice I can give to good guys or future recruits....CROSSFIT.  Start now.

The OC experience was a team bonding experience.  We literally leaned on each other and literally needed each other.  The things we have gone through together in this academy are a very special experience than many will never have the chance.

Next week...our final week.  Much of the academy experiences have been bittersweet.  This one might fall into that category as well. 

Bitter because we will not see every day the people we have gone through these life lessons and experiences together.  We have gone through all the ups and downs, we have overcome obstacles together, we have been irritated to no end with each other, we have laughed at and with each other, we have cried together, we have grown up together.

Sweet because we are on to the next chapter in our careers.  We are excited.  We are proud.  We feel accomplished.  We are ready to put to use our skills, education, and abilities.  We are ready to give back.  We are ready to make a difference.

Week 20, you were once so very far away and for awhile we did not think the end of the tunnel existed, but now we can see you and man are you bright! 

November 27, 2012

Week seventeen and eighteen-Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy...NOT!

Week 17 was all about the cones.  Everywhere you turned there were cones.  And not the frosty cones we all love on a hot summer's day.  

Bright, reflective, orange cones.

Backward driving-cones, changing lanes-cones, driving home in your personal car there were images of cones, in your dreams-more cones. 

Orange cones were always used for agility drills and/or used as dummy defenders in my world of basketball, and now I see them as other vehicles and pedestrians.

This week we drove, drove more, and drove a little more in every direction possible.  We have heard that in the academy driving is the best part.  I kept saying there is no way anything can get better than this or that, but it is true...driving was pretty fun.  Not much beats driving fast in a car with lights and sirens.  At times I was not in the driver's seat, but in the passenger seat with a classmate while they were driving and at times it felt like the "Tea Cup" ride at the amusement park.

We had an audience most of the time as well.  There is a heard of deer at the track that would camp out just close enough to watch but far enough away to not be in danger of our rookie driving skills.  You can tell our class was not their first rodeo. 

The biggest lesson learned at the track and throughout the entire driving course was multitasking and precision.  It was difficult at times to time a turn, not hit a cone, look ahead, talk on the radio, and stay in the lane.  After five days of practice and repetition it became much easier. 

We had a blast at the track.  One evening of night driving one of our classmates brought his grill and we had ourselves a nice little cookout.  The instructors were very professional but were also a lot of fun.  I can't imagine an instructor not enjoying themselves and watching all of us break in their brand new cones.

Week 18 was short because of the holiday.  We were able to take advantage of some time with Director Baca for some exam review which is never enough time.  There is so much we have learned it is not possible to review everything in a short amount of time.  We were all sponges and absorbed as much as possible. 

After a few days back in the classroom, we were in much need of a break.  We were all extremely thankful for the extra time with our families and the extra time to study our tails off for the POST exam.  When we return we have nine days left! 

November 9, 2012

Week sixteen-Swallow Lightning

This week my two biggest fears came true. 

Fear #1...snakes

Imagine being stuck in a pit full of snakes on steroids being poked at by a stick, or wrestling a caged alligator… Well I wasn't in a pit full of snakes but we did ground fighting for 4 hours straight. The next day I felt like I had done a four hour bicep curl while squeezing the thigh master for four hours straight.  We have learned how to fight smarter- not harder, but that doesn't mean our opponents get any smaller or lighter or weaker.  For four hours you are either on the offense or on the defense and both require mental and physical strength. The skills and fundamentals we have learned throughout the academy were reviewed and applied on each other for four hours on two different days.  Needless to say, this week was physically exhausting.

Fear #2...being struck by lightning.

Imagine swallowing a bolt of lightning.  Hard to imagine?  Try to imagine getting tazed.  Same thing.  We all had to go through the wonderful experience of swallowing lightning.  I actually think I would rather be struck by lightning than ever be tazed again. Lightning might mess up your hair, but it's over in a second.   The first brave recruit went and the rest of us watched with anticipation, fear, hesitation, anxiety....

One by one we all experienced the taser.  The macho recruits yelled, screamed, stiffened up, tried to stand up, everyone is affected differently.  The only difference between how the guys reacted and how the girls reacted was that the females swore like sailors.   There is something about knowing the taze is coming.   You are staring right at the taser when the instructor says, "taser, taser, taser," knowing on the third "taser" it's coming. 

I told myself I was going to tense up and just fight it out for five seconds then be done.  Nope.  The mind was having nothing to do with any of that.  I yelled a solid five second yell, my body went stiff as a board, and my mind left the building.  Being tased definitely makes for great conversation.

The whole experience brought our class together even more than we already were.  There was a sense of comfort knowing your brothers and sisters were right there with you going through the same awful experience and supporting you when you were done.

For us to be good at what we do it is imperative that we know the effects our tools have or do not have on people and see how differently each person reacts.  It is a valuable experience, just one that I will be at peace with if I never have to do it again. 

We still have to be OC sprayed which I heard is worse than being tased.  I can't imagine anything being worse than swallowing lightening, but...the academy continues to blow my mind each week.

Next week...driving!

November 2, 2012

Week fifteen-"When is it going to be our turn?"

This week was eye opening.  I realized the importance of writing good reports so I do not have to go to court.  We had a day of mock trial in the courtroom and that is a place if I never had to go in my career I would be okay with.  Two of the recruits somewhat got volun’told’ by the rest of the class to testify in court on a mock DUI case.  They both did an incredible job as it was the first time they have ever even been in a courtroom. They were on the stand with 12 of their recruits in the jury box and a courtroom full of classmates.  That was a valuable experience.

From there we had our wet lab with intoxicated role players in a controlled environment, of course.  All week we learned about SFST (Standardized Field Sobriety Testing) and how to recognize an intoxicated person and learn road side maneuvers.  This was accomplished in three days.  The instruction was incredible so the wet lab was a success.  We felt prepared and confident in our abilities.  Just like everything else we have learned, practicing road sides and keeping sharp is important in our careers. 

We had to test our on a written and practical on Wednesday and Thursday.  We had another late night Thursday night and had to turn around for an early morning on Friday with our regularly scheduled test first thing in the morning, but we expect the unexpected at this point.  The wet lab was also a very valuable experience, as well as being very fun for more than just the recruits.  The role players were very professional and we were very appreciative of their time and willingness to be a part of our learning experience.

Directing Traffic.  Yep.  There was something about being in the middle of lanes of traffic full of vehicles and being able to manage turning lanes, intersections, stopping, and pedestrians crossing...that was an adrenaline rush to me.  I have no idea what directing a symphony is like, but after 25 minutes of moving your arms and directing traffic you start to get creative.  I got done with my "shift" and high fived everyone like we had just won a game.  One of our staff members looked at me like I had lost my mind because it was just directing traffic.  Directing traffic beats a desk job any day of the week.  Once I have my first experience directing traffic in 100 degree weather or in the middle of a blizzard I might think differently.  For now, directing traffic in perfect weather is fun.  We even had a disgruntled elderly woman get out of her car and yell, "when is it going to be our turn!"  Now that is something you won't get in the classroom. 

This week we had a potluck.  My observation of the class being mostly single men solidified my decision to not fully participate in the potluck.  Not fully means that I brought five bananas and a year old box of Emergen C from my cupboard.  I'm a team player.  You can tell a lot about a person by what they bring to a potluck. 

We officially have 22 days left.  We officially act like brothers and sisters.  We officially get more ‘you'll be on your own’ talks. 

It's getting more and more real.  We are all getting anxious to get started with our agencies.  My thought has always been to stay in school as long as you can, but I have to admit I am getting anxious to start for my agency and be a part of an even bigger team.

Next week we have more ground fighting, we still have to meet the taser, learn what OC spray can do to us, and the best part of the academy from what I have heard....driving. 

We're ready.

October 26, 2012

Week fourteen- One white sock, one black

This week was crazy busy.  We had Arrest Control written test, Arrest Control practical test, ASP and Baton test, and our regular test on Friday.  That is a lot of testing.  To make things more interesting our schedule on Wednesday and Thursday was 4pm-1am.  I am always open to trying different things.  Mixing things up every now and then is good for all of us.  It also gives all of us an idea of who functions better in the mornings or at nights.  To make the change even more of a change...these were the only two nights it snowed.  Why not?  Go big or go home.

We all tested and passed our Arrest Controls tests Wednesday and Thursday.  Every test passed is a huge relief.  Arrest Control testing was surprising because as much as we all stressed out about it, more of it was second nature than we thought.  As most of the things we learn in the academy, arrest control is a fundamental.  Practice is imperative.  For any of you who have played a sport, imagine playing a game after not having played for months.  You would be rusty, not confident, and look like a fool.  Firearms, arrest control, ground fighting, etc... is no different. 

While half of us were testing out on arrest control for the first half of the evening, the others were at a different site learning and practicing building searches.  I keep saying to myself, "Can it get any better?" and it does.  The best part of building searches was working with the K9.  I am absolutely fascinated with dogs.  Everyone thinks puppies are cute, but liking dogs more than people is a different ballgame.  Working as a team is the only way to search buildings whether there are two of you, four of you, or four of you and the K9.  Communication was apparent and strong in some groups, and lacking in others, but figuring out how to get on the same page was part of the exercise. 

We finished at 1am on Thursday which means the earliest any of us got home and in bed was 2am.  We had formation at 830am the next morning which means we were all up by 630am Friday morning.  That is not much sleep-but that is the nature of the business.  We were all exhausted and the day became "one of those days" where you might show up with one white sock on and one black.  Or where you put your nametag on upside down and no one notices because we are all zombies. 

Arrest control, as we learned was not over.  It had just begun.  Which is one of those "this is becoming real" moments.  Week 14 is over already?  Every week after the halfway point in week 10 has flown by.  We are out of the classroom a lot more and it is all coming together more and more every day.  The one thing I have noticed over the past 14 weeks is...people are awful drivers!

Either this has become quite the phenomena in Jefferson County, or the academy has changed me. 

Week 15 here we come.

October 19, 2012

Week thirteen-Guest Blog- Mike, Lakewood PD

My name is Mike and I am a Lakewood Police Recruit.  I am a part of the joint inaugural 2012 Lakewood Police Department /Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Police Academy.  I am 42 years old, married, and have two elementary age children.  I was asked to write something from this perspective.
My wife and kids have been extremely supportive and understanding as Academy life can be very consuming.   I find it both challenging and rewarding.  I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to enter into such an amazing profession and because my family sees this as “meant to be” and something I want, they are behind me completely.  Being connected and close as a family going into this makes us a strong team.
The academy is more intense than a 40 hour job.  There are no days off; it is Monday through Sunday.  My day starts at 5am and I try to cut it off at midnight.  Time with family M-Th is limited but we make the most of the time we do have.  From lunch made by my wife with sometimes hidden “surprises” from the kids, to dinner each night as a family, we are still a part of each other’s days.  And, the creation of “Friday Family Fun Night” where it is special family time, no work, 100% attention has been exciting for the family.
Halloween is this week.  I have a son and a daughter who are excited about canvassing our neighborhood for candy.  My six year old daughter decided to be a witch this year, a good witch, which broke her three year stint of being a princess.  My eight year old son has always been a Star Wars character, because the good guys always save the day.  However, this year he decided he wanted to be a police officer—a SWAT Officer.  I asked him why, and he said he wanted to save the good people from the bad people.
We just finished week 14 out of 20, and we are that much closer to protecting the good people from the bad people.  I feel fortunate to be a part of such a good group.  Each week we learn something new in the classroom or out in the field.  Last week we searched buildings.  There is an art to searching a building.  It involves teamwork, good communication, and proper positioning amongst your partners—trust.
We also had our Arrest Control written and practical exams.  It is amazing how much you can learn in such a short period of time.  Our instructors were outstanding and we worked hard together to fine tune all the various techniques.  We continue to add tools to our tool belt.
And really, that sums up life at the academy:  team work, good communication and trust.  We push each other each day, whether it is in the classroom, during PT, or out in the field (practicals).  I chose this career path because I was looking forward to being a part of a group of people who embodied character, integrity, and honor.  I have found that group of people and all of us are very dedicated to becoming a public servant. 

October 12, 2012

Week eleven and twelve-Rising Sun

I thought I would mix things up and put weeks 11 and 12 together.  These past two weeks have been filled with lots of classroom and lecture material as well as a lot of arrest control review for our upcoming test.  We have learned the many ways to handcuff compliant and non-compliant people as well as a TON of takedown moves, escape moves, etc...  It is crazy to see how much we have grown from day one to now.  I remember the first week of arrest control thinking, "I'll never remember this move and where to grab on the hand and how to twist and where to cuff."  Now it is muscle memory and has come full circle from a blur to very clear.

We are starting Week 13!  We have been so busy that we have not had much time for all of this to sink in.  If and when we do have time to do anything outside of the academy it is used to catch up on rest, family time, and any semblance of a social life. 

Every day I wake up I am proud to be a part of this academy and class.

Speaking of waking up, let me run you through one of my days since I have gotten into quite a routine Monday through Friday.

6:01 my alarm goes off.  My snooze is for 9 minutes which is weird, but I push snooze one time.
6:10 rise and almost shine.
6:30 out the door.  Not quite shining yet.
7:00 arrive at academy.
7-7:20 get in uniform
7:30 meet outside for our lint rolling party
7:45 ready for inspection
8:00 enter the classroom
8-noon lecture with regular breaks. By now we can predict what snack everyone eats and when
noon-1pm lunch My lunches have even become routine.  I eat the same thing every day.  I think most of us are on autopilot and pack the same thing the night before because it takes less time to think about what to make or pack.
1-5pm lecture Unless we have physical training days, then class is out at 4pm and we train until 5pm.
Physical training is 3 days a week.  Of those three days we rotate through CrossFit, jujitsu, and running/cardio.  If you are not familiar with CrossFit, try one workout and you'll be hooked.  I wish we had more time to learn more jujitsu but we only have so many hours in our days. Running, I am not one of those people who volunteers to go on a run....ever.   

Once I get home I get all of my stuff together for the next day.  I get my lunch packed before I "shut down", lay out whichever uniform is to be worn the next day, double check my bag, then eat dinner, aka...cereal.   

This has become my life for the past 12 weeks.  It will be very different after graduation when we are in the real world, but the hardest part is that we won't be working with each other.  For 20 weeks we will have been together. 

We started in the scorching heat of the summer and have watched the seasons change.  The sun piercing through us as it rose in mornings at 730 a.m. while standing in formation has turned into seeing our breath in the cold crisp and dark mornings.  A piece of advice to anyone in the next academy....line up in formation facing away from the rising sun. 

September 28, 2012

Week ten- Always, each and every time, consistently...

Another bitter sweet week.  This was the final week at the range; the bitter part.  The sweet part is that we are over the halfway point of the academy.  On our final trek down "the hill" at the range we all laughed remembering our very first day at the range.  We were wet behind the ear recruits.  We have come far.  Now, all decked out in our duty belts loaded down with newly issued equipment and vests our first day is only a memory.  That first day we must have looked like little kids at Christmas opening our new gear, but no idea how to wear it! Now hopefully we look like we know what we are doing. 
This week we learned a lot about contacting a pedestrian.  As simple as some of this might seem, there is so much more to it than meets the eye. We are taught that the unexpected is always the normal.  We cannot let our guard down.  At the same time it is important that people we contact are treated with respect.  Often there is a fine line.  It is vital that we remain true to who we are and not try to be someone we are not.

We did some more report writing and although not near as exhilarating as the shooting at the range, just as important.  The repetition we are getting with our report writing is very helpful and every report is getting a little easier to write as we learn how to "tell a story" in each report.  The goal is not to reduce the time taken to write as every detail is needed in the report.  Ultimately the flow should be smoother.

Many of the things that are getting smoother could easily be done quicker, but that rarely gets you anywhere.  For example, cleaning your gun should be to perfection constantly, shining your boots should be perfected every time, doing Cross Fit workouts should be done with full range of motion on every exercise consistently.  Reports should be spell checked and revised without fail, ironing your uniform should be to a nice crisp crease always, arrest control should be done with attention to detail every time, etc.... 

We learned more moves in arrest control that could save our lives one day if ever needed.  I am amazed every time we have arrest control at the new holds, escapes, and take downs we learn.  My dogs are not too impressed with the take downs I practice on them but I tell them to be grateful they do not have thumbs or wrists otherwise they would get the cuffs.

We all did great on the test which always makes Fridays more enjoyable.  There is a huge relief around 9 a.m. every Friday once we know we have all passed the test.  We are each other's biggest fans and we all want to see each other do well.  I have an awesome little study group that I have worked diligently to find.  Thank goodness we found each other because it has been so helpful to learn from other people and hear what they learned from each presentation.  We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses but each of us is an important part of the puzzle.

Next week....vehicle stops and a guest blogger!

September 21, 2012

Week nine-Scenarios

Recruit Shaira shared a little about our ‘dim light shooting’ but I have to elaborate a bit more...   Obviously the shooting is a blast... the time our group spends together at the bottom of ‘the hill’ before we start class has become where we loosen up a teeny tiny bit.  We are outside, have just eaten lunch (or only had time to down an energy drink) and anticipate shooting our guns soon.   We sing, dance, tell stupid jokes, and make fun of each other--in a light hearted way of course.  Those twenty minutes are the best minutes of the day.  We done our range baseball caps, put on our eyes and ears, duty belts, lather up with sunscreen, and load our pockets with bottles of water.  My secret is a stash of macadamia nuts in my secret pocket.

Anywho... ‘dim light shooting’ was a blast.  Like recruit Shaira said at the end of the night we all got a little cranky.  All we could do was laugh because no one was getting to bed before midnight and everyone was getting up the next morning before 6 a.m.  Not only was it different shooting at night, it rained the first night!  Always expect the unexpected.

This week was intense.  We had our qualification test for Firearms at the range on Thursday.  We have shot this course many times, but it's natural for nerves to kick in when you hear "today is the day."  A handful did not pass on the first day but that is the reality of it.  If it were easy anyone could be in law enforcement.  This career is not for everyone and most of us, if not all of us, have been in positions where we have had to ask ourselves if this is truly what we want to do.  I feel the instructors put all of us in those positions intentionally so we DO ask ourselves that very question.  That thought has come and gone and been gone for a long time for all of us.  We are here to the end.

On Friday we had our week's test first thing that morning.  We all passed then off to the park.   At the park we were divided into groups.  Those groups went around the park to different scenarios.  Each scenario consisted of instructors role-playing as suspects, and victims. They did an incredible job and we were so appreciative of their patience.  Going in to a scenario you must mentally rehearse but sometimes that gets thrown for a loop. You must count on your common sense and your training to complete the call.  In a nutshell I would describe the day as...WOW.  All the laws, arrest control, decision making and pedestrian contacts we have learned in the classroom thus far were all utilized at once on these scenarios. 

It was interesting to see my peers in a different role other than playing ‘Gary on the kickdrum’ from the movie The Break Up.   It was cool (it's better than saying neat) to know you're partner had your back on these calls.  You absolutely have to trust your partner whether you are contact or cover.  This is tough for some because of similar personalities wanting control but you find a way to work together because it’s a necessity. 

At the end of day I put my brain to bed.  It was done.  I was done.  I didn't even make it to Dateline at 9 p.m.!  I felt like someone snuck something into my drink.  It was as though two elephants were sitting on my eyelids.  For the life of me I could not put words together to make sentences.  I swear I saw llamas sitting in my living room. And I could not move any of my limbs.  I was exhausted.  That is a good day at work, let me tell you.

September 14, 2012

Week eight- Guest Blog- Shaira, Wheat Ridge PD

It’s Monday morning of Week 8 and there I stand, all 5’4” of me in front of a class of 40. My arms are stiff at my sides as Sergeant stops in front of me, all I can see is the middle of his chest. “Any issues?” he asks me. Issues? I think, forgetting everything everyone has told me in the last 5 minutes. (he has this skill of resetting my “oodaloop” like nobodies business.)

This was how Monday started for me but if there is one thing I’ve learned so far it was to let things roll off your back. Our weekly theme for the week was “shower well“, which, understandably caused a few chuckles from some of my teammates. We all knew we could smell pretty bad after our PT sessions but to name a theme after it? Luckily for us this wasn’t the case, “shower well” simply meant to let the unfavorable things that happened to us, roll of our backs so we could start the days, the hours, the minutes with fresh starts.

Keeping this theme in mind, I told myself every morning that the day was fresh. That my team needed me to come in without the baggage of life so I could help lift them any means possible. We are a team after all, one giant family of blue that learns together, shoots together, works out together and most importantly puts each other in twist-locks until the muscles in our forearms throb and ache (for you folks at home, that was sarcasm).

All kidding aside, we had a rough week ahead of us. Tuesday and Thursday we had dim light shooting that lasted until 2200 hours, with early mornings Wednesday and Friday. Though shooting is fun, it was obvious that patience was wearing thin towards the end. People had families to go home to and dogs to feed but everyone did the best they could.  I know that I personally, wanted nothing more than a bone crushing hug from my goofy, loveable and understanding husband.

If there is one thing I want to share with my team, it’s that he is the only reason I haven’t gone completely mental because, let’s face it, I’m 20% there and I hope every night that every single person in my class has someone to get that hug from. Without him, there would be no one to split the nightly duties of ironing, shining boots and gun cleaning. No one to cry to or laugh with. Don’t get me wrong, we have our moments where we argue but we’ve managed to find that middle ground where we understand that we CAN’T understand the stress of each other’s life and it’s not worth trying to one up each other. Instead we goof off, say ridiculous things to each other and occasionally sneak up on each other and see how it turns out.
That being said, I could have more to complain about to my husband but instead I find myself telling him about how proud I am of my team mates and how lucky I am that they give 100%.  It was an honor being Class Leader and I can’t wait to see my brothers and sisters in blue out on the streets. And remember; “and maybe remind the few, if ill of us they speak, that we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak.” 

September 7, 2012

Week seven- Black and White

Many probably think that being in Law Enforcement involves a lot of drawing your weapon and arresting people and all the other cop stuff you watch on tv but we learned this week that 90% of what we will be doing in this job writing.  I am an English minor and never had a problem writing so I enjoyed this week.  It sure beats doing math 90% of the time.  

We can take notes all we want but the second we were given practical senerios it changed everything.  Talking to people is not black and white and there are no two conversations that will be identical.  That is why we all got into this profession, because every day is different.  Every day is full of something new.  Every day we get to interact with people, we get to talk to people, and we get to take bad people of the streets. 
We are at the end of week 7 and we are getting a lot better at multi tasking and finding a way to live off of fewer hours of sleep but I will say it again...there is NOTHING more any of us would rather be doing.
Our team/unit/family gets stronger every single day and this is the brother/sisterhood I signed up for.  I live for this.  We all make our mistakes here and there but we are in this together and we all pick each other up.  There is not a greater feeling than knowing you have 40 other people who have your back.
Week 7 down...week 8 here we come!

August 31, 2012

Week six- Guest Blog Kyle, Lone Tree PD

Since I was four years old I have had my mind set on being a police officer and joining the brotherhood of the thin blue line. When I was 15 I joined the Police Explorer program with Parker Police Department allowing me the opportunity to know that this career is exactly where I belong. So there I was a month after my 21st birthday applying for my first and only police department, Lone Tree Police. I was up against over 200 applicants.  Getting that letter in the mail letting me know I had made it was the moment my life changed. I knew that I had to prove that I was the right choice and that I would wear the badge with honor.
Starting the academy I knew there was a high possibility that I was going to be the youngest, and soon came to find out that I was. I knew it was going to be a challenge to show I had the maturity and drive that anyone else there did.
Going into the sixth week all of us recruits had gotten to know each other and the real personalities were starting to come out.  It was almost if we were starting to hate each other because we are all headstrong stubborn personalities. We started thinking of team-building activities as we went through the week to show that we could work as a team and put our differences beside us. This was especially hard for me because one of the Sergeants had told me that I didn’t have the life experiences that others did and needed to sit back and watch how my peers responded. I knew at this point that I was in a spotlight and needed to prove everyday that I wanted to be there and have what it takes. So from here on out it is my goal to be the best that I can be. I am the only recruit from Lone Tree, and fortunately have a great support from my department, but if they hear I am not doing well, then I have failed them, and myself.
Being the youngest recruit has been a huge learning experience for me thus far. It is teaching me that everyone at the academy is there for my best interest even though this is very hard to see sometimes. I look at the positives in everything that happens even the times that I am getting talked to in the Sergeants office. They are teaching me that I have to have thick skin and a hard head because I will be challenged when I get out on the streets.  I can't be seen as an uneducated rookie, or a pushover. I have to go out there and settle for nothing less than the best.

August 24, 2012

Week five- Fight, Flight, or Freeze

This week we learned how to fight. 
The only fight I have ever been in is with my twin brother growing up about who had to sit on the "red cooler" between my parents on family road trips.  One of our instructors who teaches us escape moves, jujitsu, and overall how to survive as a Police Officer is also an MMA fighter and extremely skilled in every aspect of everything he teaches us.  The lesson of the week regarding fighting was survival.  If/when the day comes where we have to fight to survive and we get jacked in the face with a fist or other object how are we going to respond?  We're going to fight!  We're going to go home to our families at the end of the day.

Round 1 was punches only.  My main focus was to move. For the average person on the street it is harder to hit a moving target. I didn't seem to phase our instructor but I did it anyway.

Round 2 punching and kicking.  I wasn't about to kick anyone because I do not have the first clue how to kick and I know there are a ton of teeny tiny little bones in the foot that could get easily broken.  So I stuck to what I didn't know better and just stuck to punching and defending. 
Round 3 punching, kicking, grappling.  I remember having wanted to wrestle when I was little because my twin brother got to and I didn't understand why I couldn't.  Now females can wrestle but after Round 3 I am glad I was not allowed to join the little boy wrestling team when I was a child.  It felt like I was grappling with a python.  Needless to say the whole experience of the day was valuable and in one day alone has given us all a taste of reality.

The rest of the week we learned in the classroom about Victim's Rights and bombs.  It is crazy that we are learning about bombs but if you think about it, maybe it is not crazy.  You always have to expect the unexpected in this profession and bombs are not ever expected.

The shooting range was awesome as well.  I feel like a kid when I leave the range because "THAT was so awesome," but then I finish with Arrest Control and I say the same thing.

We are learning how to shoot behind coverage at the range.   We have different sizes of coverage and trying to get small to the big guys is not easy, but they find a way.  I find it interesting the drills the instuctors put us through because I have taught basketball camps for over 10 years and the amount of drills we have for the campers is endless and they are all fun of course.  Same goes for the drills at the range.  There is competition against your peers, but most of them at this point are competition against yourself.   We are learning to shoot at close range as well as far, and we are learning how to shoot in the kneeling and prone positions.  It gets better every day.  We get better every day. 

Fruit Friday cannot come soon enough.  We have started bringing fruit on Fridays.  Fridays are a different beast.  We are exhausted from a full week of shining shoes, ironing uniforms, doing homework, writing reports, completing surveys, studying, packing lunch for the next day, cleaning your guns, and packing your bag for the next day yet our anxiety is high because we have a test to pass, and we have physical training.  Fridays are bitter sweet.  Fridays are like a roller coaster ride at Eliches because before the test you just want to take the test.  Then during the test you have to relax.  Then you have your reaction to your test score which could be high or low.  Then you have to get prepped for PT.  Then you come down from the adrenaline.  Then you have a whole afternoon of classroom but you really want to think about a relaxing weekend.  Regardless of our high or low...we can count on our fruit.

The lesson was a hard one to learn as there were some bloody noses, a lot of bumps and bruises, a lot of sore ribs, etc...but it was the most valuable lessons I have learned thus far.  I made it out with blood free but my jaw got rocked.  I think the two initial reactions to getting popped in the face are to fight or flight.

Next week I will have a guest speaker to share their story about the week.

August 17, 2012

Week four-Twisted into a Pretzel

We have officially made it a whole month.  It seems as if we have been doing this for a year because of how much we have already learned and how close we have all become. 

This week we spent two days at the range and two days of Arrest Control.  Right when you think training cannot get any does.  The firearms and arrest control instructors are absolutely incredible.   Not only is their experience and expertise valuable, but their patience and vigil towards  officer safety is outstanding.  I am literally taken back by the level of information we are being taught at the intensity we are being taught but even more taken back at the level of professionalism and knowledge of every single one of our instructors.

Each day I get twisted and turned and manipulated into a pretzel by one of my peers or even better by one of the instructors who can make even the biggest guy drop by the tiniest tweak in a movement.  Now I get to do the same techniques to the giants that are my peers. 

The range is a different animal.  Safety is numero uno.  Our weekly motto was "Safety first, safety always" and every move you make at the range has to be made with safety as priority.  The organization and structure of everything we do, not only at the range but in the academy, is well thought out.   If I can go through my day moving with a purpose and understanding that everything I say and everything I do must be with a purpose then my days will be great.

The range was awesome.  Not many of us have ever shot, and if we had it was not more than a time or two so many of us were learning for the first time.  Like all other "firsts" in the academy our first day at the range was officially a success.  Each instructor shares their expertise and even the slightest correction can make the biggest difference. 

It gets hot up on the range so imagine wearing your gear, with a hat, and "eyes and ears" and shooting for 4 hours....right!  Can you possibly imagine doing anything else?!  There IS nothing else.

We also had two full days of Criminal Code from Director Baca.  He is such a great teacher and his presence in the classroom is like no other.  We have a massive amount to learn and it all seems overwhelming but Director Baca's style and approach in how he presents the material makes everything a bit easier to understand.  Every instructor has very real stories that they share but Director Baca is very animated and makes sounds and uses his hands to tell the story.  He clearly knows how to capture an audience.

Next week is an exciting week for us.  We get to wear our academy uniforms.  Adios dress shoes that have been turned into workout shoes.  We have learned that you do not have to wear a t-shirt, shorts, and running shoes to workout; you can do pull ups in a nice button up, slacks, and shined shoes.  Air squats...a different story.  One of our recruits split the backside out of his dress pants doing air squats but the timing was impeccable as we needed a good laugh.  Sergeant could not even resist a good chuckle. 

We have completed Week 4 and I am sure I can speak for the rest of the team that there truly is nothing else we would rather be doing than going to academy for 9 hours and learning from the absolute best there is out there, going home and only having time to eat, play with the family for an hour, study, practice arrest control, practice our draw and weapon manipulation, complete any homework we have, sleep, repeat.