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.

Week 3 - Recruit Fratto

Finally on Tuesday we were able to get into our BDU pants, and Academy shirts. Everyone was dying to get out of their business attire, and I’m sure so were our loved ones who ironed for us! However the academy uniforms are a lot harder to up keep. You have to make sure the pants have a firm crease, and the shirt has to be completely wrinkle free, badge ironed, and belt tab on the right side. All of the recruits are doing a great job checking everyone over, and making sure we are all lint free. Especially because the pants attract everything!

Every day that we have roll call we seem to be getting a lot better. We are answering more questions correctly, than incorrectly.  Except Wednesday.  Agent Ruybal switched it up with a geography question.  If we answered incorrectly we had to go for a run to the light pole, and return. There is always a lesson to be learned. The instructors don’t do this as a punishment or to see us suffer.  They hope to teach us a lesson that might one day save our life, or another’s. The geography lesson is critical.  We need to know where we are, and know how to get to our call. If you can’t, you are no good to other officers, or the victims.

Friday marked test number 3, and all of us are starting to find our niche in studying, and performing on tests! Everyone is doing really well, and we had another 100 again!

Week 2 - Recruit Fratto

As week two started, you call tell that everyone is starting to get comfortable with each other. Everyone is doing a great job getting each other’s back when it comes to studying, keeping the lint off each other and shining boots. A few people made study guides, and passed them around for everyone. Just as we thought we had everything down, there is always something to put you back in check. One recruit left his locker open, after the day finished he couldn't find his car. The instructors like to play jokes.  Talk about a life lesson! If you leave your locker open as a law enforcement officer, and you have ammunition or guns in them, chances are you won’t find them the next day, so I’d say this was a lesson learned.

During the week we also had a couple wellness labs. One wellness consisted of 150 walls balls, and 150 squats, and the other was a 400 meter run, 150 box jumps, and 150 toes to bar leg raises. The PT instructors are really starting to turn up the heat on us. As a team we are doing a great job of cheering each other on, and making sure we finish as a team. No person gets left behind ever!

During Thursday’s roll call we learned from Agent Ruybal that you should never EVER say I don’t know to a question. So when it came to me, Director Baca asked, “What is crime prevention?” It always seems that Director Baca asks everyone else the questions I know, but then asks me the one question I didn't get to study. So, not wanting to say I don’t know I said, “Sir, crime prevention is the prevention of crime!” Every one proceeded to laugh, and it ended up pinning me the Captain Obvious Award.

Friday marked the second of fifteen tests. Everyone this week passed, and two people even scored 100 percent! One recruit was sick all week, but because of our teamwork, he was able to learn the material and pass. Due to our success on the test the Instructors decided to reward us with donuts, however due to our wellness lesson later in the day, one recruit gave the donuts back, right in front of the Commander's car!

 At the end of the day we handed out the rest of the awards for the week. ‘Mr. Bill’, which is our “funny dumb mistake” award went to a recruit who thought a Reno 911 clip was real! Our superman award went to Recruit Jones, and rightfully so, for again keeping us squared away another week. We also created our class motto, which is ‘service above self’, very fitting for a career in law enforcement. 

Week 1 - Recruit Fratto

First off I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Nick Fratto; I have lived all 25 years of my life in Upstate New York.  I went to school online, and graduated with a Criminal Justice Degree. Earlier in my life I raced sprint cars around the country, and internationally from age 13-19. Around six years ago my brother moved to the Denver Metro area, and every time I visited I loved it. I finally admitted that Colorado was the place I wanted to be. So I applied for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in July, and was lucky enough to be chosen.

Day 1 started on 01/12/2015, there were 48 of us that came in from all walks of life. Each of us in our business attire, ready to tackle the next 22 weeks, with no clue how it’s going to play out. Some of us were former Military, former law enforcement, EMT’s, Security guards, Lawyers, store managers, and so on. Each background very, very different, but all of us have the same goal. We are represented by eight different departments; Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Lakewood, Littleton, Arvada, Lonetree, Golden, Wheat Ridge, and Westminster.  The day, and pretty much the rest of the week was all about us getting our “balance,”  on what to do, and of course what not to do.  We sized our uniforms, and PT gear, and received our laptops, and set up all our administrative stuff. The day also consisted of Intro to Wellness, where we did a base test to see where we all were in term of physical ability.  The test consisted of a 400 meter run, 40 squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups, and 10 pull-ups for time. I’d have to say that most of us were pleased with our times, but know we have a long way to go, and need to continue to push our pre-conceived limits. We must strive for perfection, and accept excellence. One tip to anyone looking to go through this academy; get used to cross fit, and train in it if you can. You can run, and lift all you want, but it won’t prepare you for the type of workouts here.

On Wednesday we started the Criminal Code Articles 1 & 2, and found out that we would already be tested on it two days later. From what I understood the last class was tested on it a week later, so it definitely put us all on edge. However, Director Baca is an incredible instructor, and makes understanding all this a lot easier. Along with the criminal code, we were tested on 5 different subjects. I remember telling my brother that my ethics class in college was an 8 week course, and that I just learned the same amount of information in 8 hours. So needless to say, we all realize that the material we learn in the academy is going to be like drinking water from a fire hose.

As Friday rolled around, everyone looked extremely nervous to take the first test. We didn't have a clue what would be on it, or how it was administered. After the test was over we found out our scores immediately, and all of us did pretty well, our high scorer was a 98. That was very impressive, like I said we had just learned article 1 & 2 less than two days ago.

To end the week, I’d like to give a huge thanks to Recruit Jones, he really got us squared away from the get go. As a Retired U.S. Air Force Major he had our line ups, and roll call near perfect, which saved us from any unnecessary physical lessons. Well, one week down, only 21 to go, but who’s counting?