Recruit Fratto--Weeks 21 and 22 (Graduation)

Week 21 – Not much to talk about regarding driving, other than it was awesome. I thought Firearms was great, and it is, but there is nothing like driving someone else’s car and having free reign to drive it like you stole it.

Here are a few things to take away from driving:

  1. Congratulations to Recruit Salentine for shattering a 28-academy driving record!
  2. “J” turns are unacceptable.
  3. The interceptors push in the corners, Recruit Bartlett.
  4.  Recruit Brennan – You can’t stop a car moving at 100 mph in 50 feet.
  5. Shuffle steering in not my cup of tea, but you have to do it.
  6. Recruit Mortensen, you have to take the corner, and not take out the ENTIRE row of cones.
  7. Recruit French, we are going to be cops, and you look like a limousine driver- and the cars do go faster than 20 mph 
  8. And lastly if you try to go for the record, you will screw up and hit multiple cones, not shuffle steer, and scream at yourself so loud that others hear you and think you’re crazy
Those are just a few things to take away from our week of driving. Needless to say it was the most enjoyable week of the academy, and the best week to have prior to graduation!

Now the week I really want to talk about……The FINAL week!

Monday - started off with a few classes on civil disputes, and the Law Enforcement Role in Terrorism. To be honest I am surprised that I retained a whole lot because the only thing I had on my mind was the P.O.S.T. test!

Tuesday- Today was the day most of us have be dreading/waiting for. We were all beyond prepared for this test, but still had the sick feeling in our stomachs because we knew no one in this academy has ever failed it, and we didn't want to be the first. To our relief, we kept the streak alive and everyone not only passed, but we had the highest class average ever for the Jeffco-Lakewood Academy.

After the test, we ran Lookout Mountain. Don't quote me on the numbers, but it was somewhere around 4.62 miles and went up about 2000+ feet in elevation. It is probably a harder run then it felt on this day, because all I cared about was passing that test, and getting to Thursday's graduation.

Thursday- The real day we have all been waiting for! Honestly for me it was all a blur, it happened so quickly, and I can't wait to get a copy of the video so I can really remember it. Director Baca told us prior to graduation that when your name was called for badge, you would go blank. Luckily the two things I remember were the most important things: What the sheriff told me when he handed me the badge, and when the sheriff had us sworn in. Everything else I am going to have to refer to the video when it's available.

So to make a final conclusion of the last 22 weeks:

Director Baca: You literally are the smartest man I've come across. I have learned so much in the short 22 weeks I had in the academy. I honestly don't know if I would have fully comprehended the criminal code, civil liability, or arrest search & seizure without your knowledge. Your humor in class was second to none, and after beating 2/3 of our academy class up Lookout Mountain, I now know why you're the only one alive in your academy picture!
Sergeant Greer: I want to thank you for making our class the best possible report writers, especially on account that that's what most of our peers will judge us on. I also want to apologize for my comment on alarm clocks not even being invented during your academy. You are only as old as you feel, sir! GO ORANGE!

Sergeant Beaulieu: I always thoroughly enjoyed your tips on life, and how to make it when we get to the streets. Except when I finally had the quote of the day, and then I'd forget it listening to one of your funny stories! I will miss what we as a class referred to as “Beaulieu Fridays.”

Deputy Hoffman: The only thing better than a “Beaulieu Friday” is a “Hoffman Thursday!” You are also probably the best dog training teacher I have ever met, and think I might recommend you to teach for every academy statewide! On a serious note, I want to thank you for teaching us to be the best shooters possible, and for having the best one-liners ever.

Agent Ruybal: Hmm, first off, Go Cowboys! That was totally worth the 20 burpees on the very first day. You were the instructor that ran the show, and was always the hardest on us, I appreciate all the life lessons that you taught our class. Whether you know it or not, you changed us all in a positive way. I have one regret from the academy, and that is that I didn't eat your buster bars!  P.S. I'm still pretty sure that email you sent to us was a pre-text or your wife wrote it, I know you're not that nice!

To Class 2015-1: The last 22 weeks have been the best 22 weeks of my life. I learned so much and came away with 43 new brothers and sisters that I know will all have my back when the going gets tough, and I will always have yours. I have learned and taken away a little bit of everyone in this academy, which I think will be vitally important to my career as a Deputy. We should all be proud of what we did as a class, but remember that this is only the beginning. We have to keep learning, and pushing to be the best we can throughout our careers.

Lastly I want to apologize for talking so much, and being so obvious. I recently turned 26, and think I have calmed down some! As I am writing this we are one week into the jail academy, and I am passing the reins of talking over to former recruit now DEPUTY Kilbon! I hope after the smoke clears, and training is over, I get a spot in Booking, so I can see you all again! Good luck with all of your new careers, stay safe and always watch each others backs.

Week 20--Guest Post from Recruit Brittany Allen

Hello, my name is Recruit Brittany Allen and I am filling out the blog for Week 20 of our academy. A quick background on myself: I was raised in Huntington Beach, California. I graduated from California State University, Chico, and moved to Colorado after accepting my position with Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.  

This week has been by far one of the most rewarding weeks in the academy. I would say that the theme of the week was heroism.

As many of you probably know, this was another tough week for the law enforcement family. We once again said goodbye to another officer: Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cadet Taylor Thyfault. I did not have the pleasure of meeting him, but from what I have seen and heard, he touched a lot of hearts. 

As a unit, we went on a memorial run from Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Headquarters to the Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial located at Colorado State Patrol. When we made it to the facility we all stood in front of the memorial, bowed our heads and took a moment of silence to honor Trooper Taylor Thyfault. 

After our salute and moment of silence we were greeted by Trooper Thyfault's classmates. This time we stood as a group while the American flag was brought down. I have never seen so many people willing to work together for a cause.

All of the recruits showed that they are selfless and want to make a difference in the law enforcement community. I looked at my partners in a new light on Tuesday and can truly say I am proud to be a part of this amazing team.

On Tuesday we learned about traffic control. The best way to learn is by getting out there and that is exactly what we did. The class was split into eight groups and we all went to our respective locations. Once at the location, we watched as city workers turned off the traffic lights. The game was on. Every recruit had the opportunity to stop and direct traffic individually as well as with a partner.

Wednesday we spent the day with Academy Director Baca reviewing the material we learned over the last 19 weeks. Director Baca was able to ask us questions and the responses from recruits showed we were comfortable with the material.

Thursday we spent the day learning CPR and First Aid techniques. After four hours in the classroom we were put to work. There were four scenarios set up giving us all a new perspective on what we may encounter on the streets. I never thought about what I would do if I was to encounter an unconscious person in a vehicle or how I would react to a pedestrian that had been hit by a vehicle and was now lying in the street. 

The scenarios we approached showed me there is no limit to what we do in this job and we should always be mentally prepared to perform at the best of our abilities.

Friday was our last academy test. Once again it showed that we have all improved so much over the past 19 weeks. Everyone passed and we were all in good graces. We finished the day with another workout called Murph. 

This workout was created by Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy. This workout was one of Lieutenant Murphy’s favorite workouts. Lieutenant Murphy lost his life in Afghanistan in 2005. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after his death. For those of you who don’t know, the Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force.
A week and a half left! Lets get‘er done! 

Week 19--Recruit Fratto

Week 19 started with our PT challenge up at Red Rocks. I wish I could explain the workout; however the instructors would like that I keep it a secret for the next class that comes though. What I can tell you is that it was a series of 11 exercises that lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours depending on your pace. 

Congratulations to Recruit Brennan for not only winning the challenge, but also setting the academy record! Also congratulations to the entire class! We have all come a long way from the beginning, and all improved our physical fitness levels dramatically. We have also displayed phenomenal teamwork throughout all of the workouts and never let anyone finish alone.

Wednesday – Friday we started our 24 hours on Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). We learned a lot in three days regarding different drugs and alcohol that can impair you, and how to tell the difference between them. SFST is a standardized system used throughout the country that has a lot of statistical backing for getting positive results. So, my suggestion to those out there that want to drink and drive: DON’T. You will eventually get caught, and even if you can pass the walk and turn, or the one leg stand, “the eyes don’t lie.” 

We learned that thoroughly throughout our wet lab on Friday. For those of you who don’t know what a wet lab is, it’s when we have certain individuals come in to drink for a couple of hours so that we can get a hands-on, real-life approach to SFSTs. A lot of the individuals who volunteered weren’t even over the legal limit, and you could see a significant loss in motor skills already. So again, if you plan on a night of drinking, please find a ride.  

Drinking and driving affects so many lives. One of those lives was a guest speaker that we had named Devin Butler. Devin was a 15-year-old kid riding his bike to school one morning when a 19-year-old who was drunk and high hit him at 7 o’clock in the morning. Devin has gone through multiple surgeries, is paralyzed from the armpits down, and will never do the things he loved for the rest of his life. His life was basically taken away from him.

Friday also brought another side of law enforcement to learn….. court! Four of the recruits watched a video on a DUI stop, and had to write a report on the stop. We then went over to the Jefferson County Courthouse where they got a taste of what it was like to testify. It was a great experience for not only them, but for us watching. It really emphasized how important details are in our reports, and how to stay cool, calm, and collected during our testimony.

Week 19 is down and only 14 class days until graduation!

Week 18 – Recruit Fratto

Week 18 started out relatively quiet and ended with a lot of anxiety and hate towards a certain item we will be carrying on our belts. That item I speak of is our O.C. Spray (pepper spray) and Friday was our O.C. Practical where we get sprayed.

Monday through Wednesday we had three full class days on crime scenes. Everything from photography to DNA collection to fingerprinting and sketching out a crime scene. We were given such a wealth of information that I hope I can retain it all when I get thrown into that situation. Crime scenes are somewhat difficult, you have to be careful of what you track in and out so that you don't contaminate the scene. The last thing you want as an officer is to let a suspect run free because you contaminated the scene, and that evidence wasn't admissible in court.

Thursday was our first review for the P.O.S.T. Test. (Peace Officers Standards and Training) Like I said in the previous blog, we received our study guides--all 300 + pages of it--and are all hard at work getting in as much time as possible. I was quite nervous at first, as I was scoring below what I thought I should be on the practice tests. But as Director Baca says “repetition is the key to success.” He was right. After getting through the study guide a couple times, my test scores dramatically improved and so did my confidence on taking this test. As of today, the test is only 23 days away, and all the recruits can't wait to score well, and move on to their respective agencies.

So, as I stated above, Friday was O.C. Day. I think it is a great thing that we get exposure to our Tasers, and O.C. It helps us articulate in court that, “yes” we do know how it feels, and that it was reasonable and appropriate for us to us that tool. Also if our tool is ever turned against us, we can articulate why we had to use a force above that to protect our lives. 

Now back in Week 1, I marked two dates on the calender. One was Taser Day and the second was O.C. Day. There is always a debate about which one is worse, and that is still debated throughout our class. But I can honestly say that I would take the Taser any day over getting sprayed! The Taser is over in 5 seconds, but being sprayed is truly “the gift that keeps on giving!” My face felt on fire for hours after my exposure, and just when I thought I was in the clear, my shower reactivated the O.C.! So the conclusion is that I'll take the Taser any day over O.C. Spray.

Only 22 days until the P.O.S.T. Exam, and 24 days til graduation. This Academy had really flown by, and before we know it we will be getting our badges pinned on, and getting on with our careers!

Weeks 16 and 17--Recruit Fratto

First off I want to apologize for taking another week off without a post. I have been studying and preparing for the four tests I have in Week 17. Next week we have our Arrest Control physical test, written test, ASP test and our regular Week 17 test. Needless to say I have had my hands full! Well, enough with the excuses and on to Week 16. 

Monday started with Director Baca’s review on the C.R.S. He takes what we learned in six weeks and condenses it down to a 15-page packet that he covers in four hours! We are starting to get into the “play-offs” according to Director Baca, and have to start studying for the P.O.S.T. exam.

On Tuesday we went over to the Colorado Mills Mall once again for vehicle stops. This time our instructors taught us about high risk traffic stops, also known as felony stops. Even knowing that these are practical exercises, it still gets your adrenaline going during these stops. These are the calls that officers get excited for! It is the opportunity to get a very bad person off the streets.  One good tip for recruits following our class: put your car in park. If not, it will drive away and hit a wall! One of our recruits learned that lesson the hard way. Good thing it was a Lakewood car and not a Jeffco car! I’m kidding on the last part, and thankfully it didn't do any damage, but according to squad ‘B’ it was quite comical and a great learning point.

We ended the week with the Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony. This year the memorial hit home a little bit more for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. This year Sergeant Dave Baldwin was honored at the memorial. For those readers who don’t know what happened to Sergeant Baldwin, here is the link on the Officer Down Memorial Page:

I unfortunately didn't get to meet Sergeant Baldwin, but from what I heard from other Jeffco deputies and officers from departments all over the metro area, he was a phenomenal officer. He is the type of cop that anyone would love to mold their career around. My condolences to the Baldwin family. Sergeant Baldwin is a true hero and was a great police officer. It was truly an amazing feeling to be a part of the memorial. For the first time I think we as a class felt a part of something bigger. All year there is a separator between the recruits and our instructors, but here we were all dressed in our Class ‘A’ uniforms, and here as one to honor the great officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. It was a great ending to the week, and I am so honored to be a part of this profession.

Week 17 started out with our driving lecture. This is one portion of the curriculum that I am very excited to get into. From age 13 to 19 I raced all around the county and in Canada in a sprint car. This isn't the same thing as racing, but any chance I get to drive cars and improve my skills is greatly welcomed. I am hoping to help Jeffco take home the trophy for the best driver! Sergeant Baughman did warn us that there was a recruit who raced last class, and that he tried going for the record, and ended up messing up. So we have to make sure to focus on technique, and not try to beat the records and the speed will come smoothly. The unfortunate thing is that we don’t drive until Week 21, so this lecture was just a tease of what is to come.  

Like I stated in my previous blog, this week is really all about Arrest Control testing. We have been studying, and perfecting Arrest Control tactics for the last nine weeks, and are about as ready as we can be to test out. Everyone truly looked great during testing, and I would feel completely safe having anyone of my fellow recruits helping me on the street. It feels really good to get another skill completed, and now only having driving and our P.O.S.T. exam to concentrate on.

Oh yeah, and did I mention next week we get sprayed with O.C. spray? I am dreading this far more than I did the Taser. The Taser at least stops after our 5-second hit whereas the O.C. spray lingers all night. I joked with a few of the recruits that I can’t even get shampoo in my eyes with wanting to cry, so needless to say I am regretting that day!

The week ended with our 13th weekly test. Only two more weekly tests to go, and 32 days until our P.O.S.T. test! It is all downhill from here!

Week 15--Recruit Fratto

This week started with our last Report Writing class. In seven classes, we have all come so far from where we started. It’s a good feeling to know that your reports are deemed acceptable from some of the best report writers in Lakewood and JeffCo. Again, this is one of the biggest and most important parts of our job. If you can’t articulate and document what happened on a call, you may lose the case. The biggest takeaway from this class was something that Sergeant Brooks said: “Always write for your victim and you can’t go wrong.”

Tuesday was a fun, but sad day. It marked our last actual shooting day at the range. We started the day running through different scenarios at the tactical range, and shooting out of vehicles. In the afternoon we had our Top Gun Competition. I promised last week I would announce the winner, and give them their much deserved week of fame! Congratulations to Recruit Lineberger on the honors of being the best shot.  A lot of times in competition, you may have a “dark horse,” or someone who was just lucky that day. That was not the case with Recruit Lineberger. He was in my squad for the entire Academy, and definitely deserves the honor. He shot at a high level consistently throughout the Academy. For his win, he was awarded with a signed copy of Instructor Okada’s book “Survivors!”

On Wednesday, we had our class photo. Everyone was dressed in their respective department’s Class A uniforms. Everyone looked great, and I think we are starting to feel a lot more like police officers, and that the Academy is really starting to come to a close. We have all made a lot of friends from different agencies, and in seven short weeks we will have to start over again. Wednesday ended with two classes, one on vehicle searches, which taught us the art of finding the crazy hiding spots that criminals come up with in their cars. The other class was on narcotics, where we learned how to properly identify certain narcotics, and how to test them.

Thursday started with our last 4-hour block of Arrest Control drill training. This was the run phase of our practicals. So all of our scenarios were high risk. All of the recruits in my squad had such a drastic improvement from the first time we did our scenarios. We are all starting to become comfortable in our contacts, and it shows in how we handle each scenario. 

To end the day, we had our very last day at the range. We had our class on simunitions. This is where we turn guns that shoot bullets into guns that shoot plastic, soap-filled rounds. The fun part is that we got to hunt each other down, and face off against our classmates in a dual-type setting. The point of the exercise is to show recruits proper cover. You find out real quick if your cover is adequate enough. It also shows you that once your adrenaline kicks in, your tactics and fundamentals can go straight out the window.

Friday ended the week with our 12th test. Everyone passed and we had a few 100s. To end the day, we had lecture, and a practical on crowd control. This class is extremely essential due to the latest events involving police, such as the Ferguson, Missouri shooting. 

I used to think that crowd control was like an every-person-for-themselves-to-save-lives-and-break-up-the-crowd job. It is actually very structured, and organized. Every person has a job, and a job to fill once someone goes down, or has to leave. I have to say, this was a great week and great to end it running through a field with a 42” baton like I was in the movie ‘300.’


Week 14--Recruit Fratto

Everyone in the state of Colorado, and across America, remembers the horrific day at Columbine High School 16 years ago.

On Monday, we learned about law enforcement's response to such incidents. It started with a lecture on vehicle contacts and Rapid Emergency Deployment (RAID), which helps prepare us as First Responders get into buildings and effectively stop active threats. SWAT teams cannot always be right around the corner, so we as the First Responders have to be able to get in and save lives.

Wednesday for my squad was spent at the Colorado Mills parking structure for our vehicle contact practical. This day was a lot of fun. A lot of our days’ work progresses from traffic stops. One thing to always remember is that there is never a routine traffic stop.

Our role players did a phenomenal job playing different roles, and I don’t think they get enough credit for how well they really push us to learn. Traffic stops are very dangerous in nature, and our day’s point of emphasis was safety: the safety of innocent bystanders and ourselves.

Thursday we were at the firearms range for the entire day. This time we were up there as a whole class, and not in our respective squads. I’m starting to get a bit depressed, as we only have two more class days at the range! We continued to do qualification courses, and compete against each other on the tactical range.

Next week we are having our Top Gun Competition to see who is the best shot in the class. Our class has a lot of good shooters, and I think on any given day each one could win. Well that day is Tuesday, and should be interesting to see how it plays out! I’ll make sure to report the winner in next week’s blog!

Friday ended with our RAID practical at the Flatirons Community Church.

The JeffCo Regional SWAT Team taught our practical, and started off by showing us the proper way to search a building for an active threat. They are truly awesome to watch. They move so fluidly and have great communication, which is key in effectively finding and stopping active threats. RAID is a lot like building searches, except time is now not on our side. We have to move a lot faster, and be a lot more versatile. We have to be able to be flexible, and adjust when presented with new challenges. I think we all did a great job in responding to what our instructors taught us.

Week 14 is done. I tried to jump the gun last week in saying 8 weeks left, but now there is truly 8 weeks left!