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!

Week 9--Recruit Fratto

The theme of this week is perseverance, how fitting with what we are going through as a class this week.  

Up to this point in the academy we have been doing a pretty good job of policing each other. Agent Ruybol warned us about getting complacent when we start to get comfortable, and think we are doing everything right. 

This week two recruits left their lockers open in one day. Now the reaction they got from staff was a bit funny, just not the punishment we received as a team. The first recruit had his jacket and keys taken by someone who wrote him a fake “ransom letter” on how to get it back while the second recruit who left his locker open after we had  just had a 20-minute lecture on not getting complacent and doing that, had a bucket full of paper shreddings left in his locker. Again, somewhat comical, but the punishment wasn't. 

On Wednesday we had to not only run down to the pole and back with 25- to 45-pound weights (depending on our size) over our heads, but carry that weight around for the rest of the day. Wherever we went, it went! The point is that if you want to get complacent, and do this job at 50%, someone is going to have to pick up your slack, or in this case, your “weight.” I think after a day of that, LESSON LEARNED!

On Tuesday and Thursday, we had our now normal Arrest Control and Firearms. Both classes keep adding more and more techniques, and while I don’t get to see both squads, I have to say everyone is doing a good job keeping up. Just when you think your brain can’t take any more learning, we learn something new. We surprise ourselves every time with how much we retain.

On Friday we had our 9th test, and last one until we get a much-needed week off from testing! Everyone passed, and Director Baca brought us in doughnuts again! (I know non-law enforcement readers are now stereotyping)

Lastly, I want to talk about our workout for Friday. We did the “James Davies Memorial” workout. James worked for Lakewood, and was a very good friend of our P.T. instructors. After hearing the instructors tell us about what kind of police officer James was, I think we could all aspire to be ½ the officer he was. It made all of us take a lot of pride in doing this workout, and you could tell it’s the hardest we have all worked. It also reminds us that this job has a lot of dangers, and that the people who do it and risk their lives are truly special.   TRUE BLUE HERO – JAMES DAVIES 1899 – EOW 11-9-12

After persevering through the first part of this week, I am happy to say we all made it and we are on to Week 10. Slowly but surely closing in on the halfway mark! 

Week 8 -- Recruit Fratto

I’m not kidding when I say these weeks are really starting to fly by, I literally don’t know what day it is anymore, with the exception that I know all tests are on Friday. However, the faster the days go, the more tired we all seem to be getting. 

On Monday we had our lecture about Pedestrian Contacts. This is going to be the biggest part of our job. We have to contact people within the community, some we gain knowledge from, others we might suspect of a crime. We put it all together on Wednesday with our practical. Our instructors put together multiple role players so that we could play out scenarios as realistically as possible. 

This was such an eye opener for all of us. It can be insanely difficult to talk with people not only who hate you and don’t want to talk with you, but even the ones who like to talk to you. This was the best learning experience I've had by far. We were far from perfect, but learned a lot regardless of the outcome. The instructors did a great job helping us understand the right way to do things, or helping tweak some things we did that were good to make them great

On Tuesday and Thursday we were back in Arrest Control and Firearms. A lot of the Arrest Control Tactics are really started to come together. Everyone is starting to look a lot more like cops and a little less like civilians. We also learned quite a few pressure points, which was extremely interesting. We were walking that fine line of hoping not to hurt our fellow recruits, but at the same time wanting that reaction of pain to know it will work. It was crazy that one pressure point dropped my partner like a ton of bricks yet another one wouldn't make him flinch. So it’s good to have that tool box full of pressure points, so when one doesn't work you hopefully have one that does!

In firearms. we continued learning new skills, and were even allowed to shoot at some steel targets! This is the greatest show on earth, the instant gratification of hearing the steel ping the instant you shoot. On the flip side, if you miss, everyone one around you knows! We are all truly improving a lot in the marksmanship category. Everyone is getting more confident handling their weapons, especially the people who have never shot before. If you were to come up to the range now, you would never know they've never shot before!

Friday we finished with another test, test 8 of 15! We all passed and are getting closer to that week where we don’t have a test at the end. 14 weeks to go, or 68 class days!

Week 7 -- Recruit Fratto

I’d like to start off by saying this was the fastest week by far. I don’t even know where the days went. All the recruits are starting to realize how fast paced this academy really is. The instructors are starting to turn up the pressure, and expect us all to keep up.

This week we had three Arrest Control classes. On Monday, we all looked completely out of place, and unsure of what to do. By Thursday you could tell we all had a major improvement. We are still making minor mistakes that allow us some physical reminders that doing the wrong thing, and acting like citizens, could get us hurt, or worse, killed.

This week we also had two firearms classes, but instead of practicals we were actually allowed to get some lead through our weapons. Tuesday ended up in the 40s, which is perfect shooting weather for me. However on Thursday, it was a mere 7 degrees. I could have sworn that wind and snow were blowing from all directions! I quickly realized that being near perfect on Tuesday was not the case on Thursday. All I could do was concentrate on how cold my hands were, and I made a lot of little mistakes. However, all recruits are loving our new classes. The death by PowerPoint is now limited to three days a week at most!

On Wednesday we had a full day learning about domestic violence. I circled this one on my calendar so that I would bring a lot of coffee. To my surprise, it was one of the best classes I had all year. To some extent, this alone taught me a valuable lesson: Never make assumptions, because assuming in law enforcement can get you hurt. Lakewood Police Detective McKone, and Jeffco Detective Turnbull are some one the most entertaining instructors! They made a tough subject interesting, and really easy to understand. Domestic violence calls are very important because not only are they high risk, but a very high percentage of the calls we go on.

On Friday we had our 7th test, and again all of us passed! To end the day, we had another day of report writing. The instructors finally gave us a little bit of appraisal, letting us know that we are drastically improving. This is great to hear because your reputation as a police officer--most of the time--comes from how good
or bad your reports are.

Seven weeks down, 15 to go!

Week 6 - Recruit Fratto

Monday - We were issued all of our leather gear, and fitted for our Class A uniforms and vests. We are finally able to feel like we are becoming real officers, agents and deputies. At the end of the day, we had a class to learn more about Law Enforcement’s involvement with the Special Olympics. This is something I really can’t wait to get involved with. I am patiently waiting for my opportunity to get involved with the community, and I can’t think of a better way to help and get involved than the Special Olympics. On March 7, I am honored to attend the Special Olympics Polar Plunge. To all the recruits and current deputies reading this blog, make sure you sign up and contribute to Team ‘JeffCoStrong’, so we can get Sheriff Shrader to take the Plunge!

This past Tuesday through Thursday, we started our introduction into Arrest Control and Firearms. This week is all about the basics. We have to get everyone up to speed and at the same level. Many people come from different shooting backgrounds. Some have never fired a weapon before, and others, like our former military, have fired plenty. The funny thing is that our top shooters will most likely be the ones who have never shot before. They don’t have any bad habits so it’s easy for them to listen and learn the right way the first time. I have shot quite a bit, and I am really going to try to forget the way I shot before.

During Firearms we were also taught how to maintain and clean our weapons. This is very important and something to be taken very seriously. As deputies we hope that we never have to use our weapon, but if we do need it you hope that it works, and the best way is to properly maintain it. Now that I talked about the seriousness, there is a funny side to maintaining equipment. One of our recruits, who was learning to take apart her magazine, forgot to keep her thumb over the top of the spring when putting it back together. The spring shot out nearly missing my face, and all across the room!

On Friday, we had our 6th Test. Once again everyone passed, and we had another 100 percent. The recruits are continuing to find their studying niche, and what works well for them. Lastly I’d like to congratulate Recruit Sullivan and his wife on the birth of their first son! Next week starts Week 7.  Only 80 class days left!

Week 5 - Recruit Fratto

On Tuesday we went into our second set of Officer Survival. This week we talked a lot about how different stressers affect our lives, and our jobs. The Academy instructors do a good job of applying pressure, not because they want to see you crack and quit, but because they want to see that you can function, and do your job while being stressed. 

We had a funny story regarding a recruit having a bit of stress affect his life. A recruit left his house, and when he leaves to go to the academy he mutes his phone. He also had his mind on what is going on that day, and what he needs to study. Well his wife was drastically trying to get a hold of him because her car broke down, and needed his help. When she couldn't get a hold of him she had to walk a mile back to their house in the snow! Later that day when he found out this happened, he realized that the person he saw broke down this morning, and passed without helping, was his wife! Just for any wives reading this, he was punished, and sentenced to a few nights in the spare bedroom!  I will admit that the stressers are going down a bit from the beginning of the academy. Once you find your routine, and get into rhythm it gets easier.   Here is look at what my current schedule looks like:

4:45 – Wake up
4:50- 5:30 – Shower, shave, put bags in car and leave
6:00 – Arrive at the Academy
6:00-6:20 – Shave again (I get my 6am shadow) and get dressed
6:20-7:30 – Study, answer/write emails, and anything else class related
7:45 – 5:00 – Academy day
5:15- 5:45 – Drive home and study while I drive
6:00-7:00 – press uniforms, polish boot, make lunch
7:00-8:00 – Study
8:00-9:00 – family time
9:00- BED

Occasionally some things vary, as I like to throw workout in there, and a few other things, but that is my typical schedule. I really feel for the guys and girls who are married, and have children. I give them a ton of credit, and they have my full respect. I stated before that it has gotten easier now that I have my routine down, but soon enough there will be things added to that schedule. You can’t get complacent, you have to be flexible.  Every day is different, and you can’t expect to be doing the same thing day in and day out.  It is a small part of the reason why I wanted to join law enforcement. The challenge of every day being different really makes things exciting and fun for me. It's what makes this a career--something I wake up happy to do every day--and not just a job you go to every day for a paycheck.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the Denver Post for this Academy blog. It’s something I haven’t done in a long time since racing. It gave me the opportunity to share what we do at the Academy to a wide variety of people that might not have access to the Internet. It also gave me time to give credit to the other recruits on the commitment they've made to this profession. The only negative part was that as soon as I walked in the locker room, I was immediately called “Hollywood!”

At roll call Thursday we were again asked about geography. I was excited because over the weekend I made it a point to memorize all the streets west of Sheridan all the way to Zircon. Well if you have read my earlier posts, you know that Director Baca only asks me the questions I don’t know! He asks me a street south of Ellsworth, and I haven’t made it there yet. So of course I got that wrong! Never ever be happy with knowing  just enough! There is always more to know!

On Friday we had our 5th test, and we all passed! This week really flew by for me, but I was also really exhausted, and I think most of the other recruits are too. Time to keep pushing on into the next week. Five weeks down, 17 to go!

Week 4 - Recruit Fratto

Week 4 started with more criminal code. This time we shifted focus towards crimes again persons, and properties. We are talking about Arsons, Burglaries, Thefts, and Criminal Mischief. Everything is really started to come together with all the other elective classes. We are starting to paint the whole, well part of the picture, and it’s becoming apparent in roll call. Recruits are starting to answer questions with more conviction.

Tuesday was our introduction to Officer Survival. The class is taught by Agent Ruybal, and Sergeant Maestas. (Who quickly became one   recruit’s boogey-man) This is where the seriousness of our profession comes into play. This class is a huge eye opener; it makes you really dig deep to find out if this is really what you want in life. There are always scenarios you place in your head to help you prepare for a career in Law Enforcement, but this class helps you prepare for the unexpected. In the end we are learning to reduce risk, and to make sure we come home every night. To me this has been one of the most important classes we’ve had. You can have all the book knowledge in the world, but if you can’t apply what you learn on the street, in a safe way, it can not only end your career, or your life, but someone else’s life too. One tip to readers of this blog that are going into this academy or Law Enforcement in general, make sure this is what you want. Also make sure you know what this career entails, because it’s not for everyone. It is not what you see on TV, or the movies where you speed with lights and sirens, well it is, but a lot more to it as well. There are hundreds of applicants that want a spot in the academy, and if you make it, and aren’t sure after then you just took that spot from another deserving candidate.

To end the week we had a couple wellness sessions. One of them included a relay with a partner, and I have to say after that, I have so much respect for the recruit that was my partner. It was a very tough workout, and no matter how tired he looked, he never once looked as if he was going to give up. That is a quality in a person that I would love to work with every day; someone who no matter what never gives up.

On Friday marked our 4th test of the Academy, and I have to say it was one of the toughest tests we have had.  I felt as if I had knew the material about as well as I could have. However, the test was written very word specific, and I should’ve slowed down, and read the test carefully. I’m thankful for passing, however I am always trying to push myself passed my limits. I never settle for mediocre, and I want to be better than that. As the day came to a close we had to say our goodbyes to Recruit James as our Class Leader. He was a great leader for the past two weeks, and continued what Recruit Jones started. He kept us out of trouble, and really had us squared away. Class leader is a tough job, and I can’t thank him enough for the job he did. 

Lastly were the awards, our Mr. Bill award went to Recruit Peterson for not only saying “I don’t know” once, but four times! The Captain obvious award finally left me after my two week reign, and went to Recruit French. Detective Bingham asked him what department he used to work for, which he replied “DOC,” after a pause he looked at Detective Bingham, and said “That’s the Department of Corrections sir.” Detective Bingham then replied “I know what DOC is!” Finally the Superman award for the recruit who did something exceptional. The class decided that I would be given this award for the week for creating a study guide that everyone could use. I am truly honored to be given this award by my fellow recruits, and can’t thank them enough. I’m not one who is used to, or wants praise for anything I do. Every single person in this academy does their very best every day, and always has each other’s backs. I think for the past four weeks, we all performed above expectations, and we all deserve that award.