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!

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 Ruybal 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!