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!

Weeks 12 and 13--Recruit Fratto

Week 12 was rather uneventful but, it started and ended with 16 hours of traffic investigation. It was interesting to see how different tire marks, and damage on vehicles can paint a pretty clear picture as to what happened in an accident.

Tuesday's Arrest Control training allowed us time to finally work with our batons. We learned how to manipulate and use them in a ton of different ways. We learned where and how we use it to strike, and. most importantly. when we can legally use them. Lakewood Police Agent Beers does a great job of making it perfectly clear when we can use our batons. During Firearms Training, we continued to work on P.O.S.T. practices test, as we will be taking the real deal next week. All of the recruits are improving each day, and feel pretty confident going into the test.

Wednesday was pretty much a full day of report writing, but this time instructors were making our due dates quite a bit more realistic. Previously our due dates were class to class, which sometimes was a week to two weeks apart. This time they were due by the end of the day. To my surprise, it wasn't that hard at all to really buckle down and get the report done. However, I also didn't get a second or third or fourth call after that. In the real world I probably wouldn't be given two to three hours straight to finish my report. I would most likely go on five other calls that all require reports by day's end.  

Week 12 down, 10 more to go!

Week 13 started with Director Baca going over Arrest, Search, and Seizure review. Director Baca always does a phenomenal job teaching topics. Prior to his review, I was somewhat skeptical on what I could and couldn't do, but he paints a pretty clear picture on what case law says, and how to stay in the scope of the law. This is the bread and butter of our job because we can make all the arrests we want, but if we disregard citizens’ rights, then all our work means nothing.

On Tuesday and Thursdays we had Firearms Training again. This was our second week of night shooting, which was a lot of fun, but a bit more serious this time around. We did shoot-no shoot scenarios, and when there is very little light, it makes it really hard to determine a threat. We all did a great job determining our threats, and shot when it was appropriate. We also had our P.O.S.T. firearms qualification that we all passed by the end of the week!

On Wednesday we had the honor of being tased! It’s unfortunate that I can’t share all of our videos with you, because it would probably make this week’s blog a lot more enjoyable! So, the night before, I was sitting on my couch imaging that I would get tased, and be one of those people who can’t feel pain and walk right through it. Well, that’s not the case at all. My body was completely immobilized and I couldn't do a thing. I didn't even realize I yelled until watching the video afterward. Aside from everyone’s comical tasing, Agent Beers does a great job teaching the topic and making sure we all understand when we can use our Tasers.

For Thursday's Arrest Control training, we got into the walking phase of our drill training. The instructors and role players stepped up the intensity a little bit more this time around. Overall we did a great job, we aren't getting stumped anymore, and we're making decisions a lot faster. Our arrest control techniques were far better this time around. We test out in about a month, and I finally feel comfortable with my techniques and form. More importantly it will give me confidence to do it on the street, and assure that I give myself and fellow officers the best opportunity to stay safe.

We ended the week with a six-hour NIMS/ICS class that certified us with FEMA to be able to handle big incidents that happen in Jefferson County. It’s pretty amazing to me that the first six to seven weeks started with death by PowerPoint and no foreseeable end, but now I can finally see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are now certified in NIMS/ICS, certified to carry Tasers, and certified with our pistols. 

Eight more weeks, and a few more certifications and we will be done! 

Week 11--Recruit Fratto

This week we had a lot of practical scenarios. This is where we really learn what our job is about.

It's a lot better than sitting in a classroom for death by PowerPoint. Monday was all about building searches, not only did we get to see the K-9s do searches, but we did plenty ourselves. We did our searches at the old Jefferson County Mental Health building, and for those who don’t know, it has about 1,000 rooms.

On Wednesday, we did In-Progress calls at Heritage Square, which was an extension of our Officer Survival/Pedestrian Contacts class.
Our other squad had a great 70-degree day to do their practical outside. Our squad’s day wasn't so nice, but we got to use the Heritage Square buildings, which made it more real. It really tested our placement, because every space was tight and confined. We had to make sure that we don’t put each other in the crossfire, and that we covered each other effectively. As a class, we have all improved so much on our calls. We are starting to feel quite a bit more comfortable. In 11 more weeks when we graduate we should be as close to perfect as possible.

On Tuesday and Thursday, we were once again doing Arrest Control, but this week was a little bit different though. This week in Arrest Control we started ground fighting. It was a lot of fun to learn some fighting techniques, and then test them against our instructors at the end.

This week for firearms was completely different then what we usually do. On Tuesday we went over to the Sheriff’s Office and focused on our basic fundamentals. After that, we were able to use the JeffCo firearms simulator for shoot/no-shoot scenarios.

The simulator is like a big video game, and I wanted to go home and ask my girlfriend if I could have one for my birthday. I’m pretty sure she wouldn't allow me to spend $60,000 on a game.

On Thursday, we did our first night shoot, we lucked out and had a bit of cloud cover to help with some light. We learned to manipulate our flashlights, and I think all of us shot pretty well. The difficult part is being able to see a weapon, so we lose a bit of reaction time making sure we can shoot.

On Friday we ended the week with Test # 10, which all of us passed again! One thing to note in this profession is the possibility of having a lot of ups and downs. We were all on a high note from the test, and then realized that our last class for the day was Crimes against Children. I’m not going to go into much detail, but the class outraged me and I don’t understand how people can treat children the way that they do. I just hope I can make a difference when I graduate, and help some of the children in need.

On a much better note, we are now exactly half way! It’s all downhill from here!

Week 10--Recruit Fratto

Looking at the schedule, I thought the week is going to fly by, and it did! Almost everything was away from the Academy, and is some sort of practical lesson. 

Monday was a lecture on building searches, which was our introduction to our practical that we will be doing next week. This was interesting class because buildings are very dangerous and require a ton of attention to detail. I’m really excited to do the practical next week and test our knowledge from the lecture.

Tuesday was another day of arrest control and firearms. However, this week was a bit different than the last few. During arrest control we got away from handcuffing techniques and finally got into some strikes. It was a lot of fun to switch things up, and hit the bags a bit. During firearms this week we started our POST practice tests. A lot of us I think did really well as far as the shooting, but had that one stray bullet that cost us the entire qualifier. It is okay now because we have a few more weeks of practicing the POST test before we actually take it. However, I know a lot of us just want to put the whole thing together and get that perfect score.

On Wednesday we got to witness one of the best sights in Law Enforcement: the K-9s! These dogs are one of the best tools that Law Enforcement has, and they are absolutely amazing to watch. I would love to work with, and become a K-9 deputy. It is one of my career goals, and JeffCo has great opportunity within the department to work as a K-9 Deputy in the future.  

After the K-9s, we had our 2nd Fit Test, and everyone improved drastically. Some recruits cut their times in half! I could tell a huge difference in my test because coming from New York, not only was I sick but I wasn't used to the altitude. We were let out early Wednesday for Family Night. It was nice to meet everyone’s family and show mine where I come to work every day. We had guest speaker Dr. Jaime Brower, who let all our families know what to expect from us as recruits, and what changes they’re going to see over the next 22 weeks.

Thursday started with our ACT practical. A few weeks ago we had a Pedestrian Contacts practical, and I have to say I felt a lot more comfortable this time around. I found that my conversation and decisions became easier. Part of that is the knowledge I've obtained from that time, but also the mistakes that I learned from before. The instructors don’t expect us to be perfect, but they do expect us to learn from our mistakes and progressively get better, and I think we are doing that. 

In Firearms we got another shot at the POST test, and quite a lot of us improved, a few recruits even got a perfect score! After the POST test we had a friendly recruit vs. recruit competition. It was a ton of fun cheering on, and trying to talk “trash” to our opponents to get the upper hand to win.  In the finals, it was quite funny that one of the recruits turned around to look at his trash talkers, and turned off his earphones so that he couldn't hear them!

Friday ended with Major Crimes classes. All of these classes were previously covered in the criminal code earlier. Now we got some case law, and real life examples to tie up all the loose ends. Oh yeah by the way, we didn't have a test for the first week! Which, by the way, made me feel so odd because I had a little more time to do things than usual. It also made me feel like I was forgetting something. I guess we will find out for next week’s test. 

Well this week ends the first half of the Academy; Monday is officially the half-way point. I feel like we just started, and now it’s half-way over. I’m excited to finish out strong, and get going on my career with JeffCo!