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.