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!