Advice for the Next Class

Dear Class of 2016-2,

We asked the 2016-1 Class what advice they’d give to help you through your Academy and this is what they had to say:

Put your head down and get to work.
Recruit Peters

Study at least one hour each weeknight (except Fridays!), and four hours each weekend day.
Recruit Sauter

Stay Honest on PT all the time!
Recruit Dow

Don't wear "boat shoes" to PT and remember the acronym NGU - Never Give UP!
Recruit Thorson

Ladies: Keep some chocolate in the locker-room. Bring really good snacks for break time. Buy an extra PT shirt for the range and ACT. Lint rollers, sharpie pen, lighters are great for taking care of your uniform. Meal prep on the weekend, saves you time during the week.
Recruit Daniel

Don't chew gum in formation... Or ever. Buy mints.
Recruit Castillo

Think before you speak. Lock your lockers. Don't speed. You will get a ticket.
Recruit Fraser
Set two alarms in the morning.
Recruit Marshall

Fake it til you make it.
Recruit Steinmetz

Walk with a purpose, everywhere you go. Bring all of your gear, every day, even if you don't think you will need it. There are no absolutes in law enforcement, don't expect black and white answers. Don't throw your coworkers under the bus, help one’s hard enough without hindering each other. Stay up to date on your surveys...they pile up fast.
Recruit Walker

Lay low, stay under the radar. Be confident, even if you're totally wrong. First impressions are everything. Embrace the suck. Make sure you prepare your items the night before, so that when you oversleep it’s not a huge deal.
Recruit Saari

Don’t muzzle Sergeant Greer...or anyone.
Recruit Albright

Study, but don't over study. Take 20-30 minutes EVERY night to review material.
Recruit Bapst

Never make excuses.
Recruit Stanton

Come in everyday with an open mind and a good attitude. Always be prepared and give 110%.
Recruit Sykes

Make sure you obey all the safety rules at the range. Running the hill to check if the gate is still there becomes a little annoying after a while.
Recruit Hernandez

Don't let anyone bring you down and surround yourselves with supportive people. Make friends in the academy. If it weren't for them, I would not have gotten as far as I did. Press on, no matter what!
Recruit Eggleston

1-If you are Guard/Reserves, request to be put on inactive status while in the academy. 2-Always bring extra clothing to range days, normal weather patterns don't apply to Rooney Range.
Recruit Lovera

Make sure you use spell check, always have each other’s back, and don't be a robot (Recruit Nees). Recruit Saunders

Turn up every day prepared to work hard and challenge yourself. Answer questions, get involved, and take full advantage of the learning environment you have been given.
Recruit Mannerings

Remember, you're all family now, take care of each other!
Recruit Cosselman

Study the material every night. Do not let time get past you or wait for the last minute. Study for every test like it's the POST test.
Recruit Schneebeck

Push yourself and never give in no matter what. The only person you have to prove anything to is yourself.
Recruit Giger

Always go the extra mile. If you feel like something is too easy, you're probably doing it wrong. Put in the extra work. Keep your head on a swivel. Be respectful. Pay attention to the details. Be prepared- always keep all of your gear with you. Challenge yourself! Don't be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them here.
Recruit Bellio

Take time to study a little every night, that way you are not cramming on the weekend. Also, keep an open mind and try to get something out of everything that is taught.
Recruit Mohr

Have the right mindset and persevere no matter how difficult it may be.
Recruit Nguyen

Work hard and keep working hard but also have fun. Now is the time where you make friends that will be career- and life-long.
Recruit Strube

Just understand that from the beginning, this will be one of the toughest things you will do, but literally take it one day at a time, otherwise you will stress yourself out. There’s a reason you were picked. You will earn everything in this academy, but just know that you will make it out. We had 17 fail the first test, including myself, but we all bounced back and had higher test averages at the end: “One day at a time.”
Recruit Medina

Don't second guess yourself on test questions, go with your gut.
Recruit Diehl

Don’t put .40 ammo in with the 9mm ammo. Start learning street rotations now. You will not have time once the academy starts.
Recruit Johnson

Do not let the tides of common opinion or popular belief sway you. Hold fast to the values that brought you this far, let them guide and strengthen you. Prepare always for the day when you will meet your maker, and conduct yourself so that on that day, you have no regrets. Never quit, never falter, never fail. Recruit A. Smith

Never give up. There will be days you feel like you are not cut out for it, just remember why you started. Pay attention to details and do your best every single day. Take it one day at a time and push yourself. Recruit K. Smith

Break in two pairs of boots—range boots and dress boots. Get a spit shine base on the toes of your inspection boots before the academy starts. Purchase your duty firearm and get familiar with it before the first range day. If possible, spend some time at the range to ensure the sights are zeroed. Order at least two extra PT shirts. They are fragile and you'll use them for much more than PT.

Some minor things:  Get a paper punch and sturdy 3-ring binder for your statute outlines. They’ll be an enviable reference even after the academy. Pick up an extra cuff key. Keep pen and pocket notebook on you at all times.

Maintain a sense of humor at the academy, but keep it to yourself and your close friends. The course is stressful and humor is best for coping; however, don't share it with the staff or be flippant. Police business is deadly serious, and the academy is a formal training and academic environment.

Good diet and conditioning is key to surviving the rigors of these 22 weeks. Crossfit is a difficult program, and includes many pull-ups, burpees, and long runs.  Be rested, eat well, and keep in shape.
Recruit Alonso

Ladies, turn off the light if you're last one in the locker room. But, DON’T turn the light off on your fellow recruits when they're in the bathroom. They will be less than happy with you.
2016-1 Ladies (Mostly Recruit Bellio)

Put in the work. Learn to be slow in a hurry. Be sharp. Plan ahead. Chop your own wood. Grind out this process inch by inch. Embrace the suck.

Best of luck,

Class of 2016-1

Deputy Steinmetz's Final Blog

As we cruise right into our last week at the academy, it is hard not to think about how incredible the past 22 weeks of my life have been. It has been a dream of mine to have a career in law enforcement.  With that day hours away, I think back on the journey and remember just how special this experience has been. 

I think the most important thing I can take away from my time spent preparing to be a deputy is just how powerful this career truly is. Day one brought us all together. Even though we came from different backgrounds, some from out of state (one even from another country), we all had at least one thing in common: we had no idea what to expect but were willing to meet any challenge head on, conquering whatever the academy could throw at us. 

Day in and day out, we were offered a variety of opportunities to grow and become not only better people but upstanding members of the law enforcement community. Taking this journey with my brothers and sisters has taught me that we are truly united. From pulling through workouts to helping each other learn about the law, we are all one big family. To me, this feeling extends to fellow law enforcement officers throughout the country. 

One essential take away from my time at the academy is how much the rest of society counts on us to be unwavering and steadfast. We are the ones who have been trusted to always make the best decision, never backing down from any challenge and always being ready to step up when a need arises. I think this kind of trust is unique to this profession. While we will always face criticism in one form or another, we are entrusted to put our personal beliefs aside, uphold the law, and actively seek to protect and support our community. I know from the teachings we’ve received during our time at the academy, each of us has the ability to remain strong and answer swiftly and justly when called upon.

From the very first moment I accepted the offer from the recruiting coordinator, I have been extremely honored and grateful for the opportunity to learn at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Lakewood Police Department Combined Regional Academy. Since that initial phone call I’ve learned to be grateful for so many things. I am grateful for all of the amazing volunteers, instructors, and academy staff. If it were not for them and their tireless efforts, the academy wouldn’t have the success rate it does. I am grateful for all of the friendships I’ve developed along the way, most of which I know will last for a very long time. I am honored to be working for Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the only place I applied to and the place in which I knew I belonged from the very beginning. I am lastly grateful for the state of Colorado and being trusted to help keep it the amazing place to live that it is.

In the near future I look forward to beginning my career in Corrections. I want to spend time there so I can experience what it is like to deal with a part of the job that most people are unfamiliar with. After that, my goal is to move to patrol where, with any luck, I will be able to work in the Mountain Division (that fresh air is always calling my name). I am extremely excited to be working for Jefferson County and can’t wait to see where my career will go within the Sheriff’s Office.

As for advice for any future recruits, it is simple: enter each day with an open mind excited to learn and always have a positive attitude. Never let your confidence overtake your humility and be prepared to fail.  It is from our failures we learn the most. One last thing--don’t be afraid to surprise yourself.  The entire process is long, grueling, and extensive. Out of a job pool of literally thousands of applicants, the recruiting staff does an incredible job of picking the best. Have faith that you were chosen for a reason; a bunch of way smarter and more experienced people think you are perfect for the job.

And remember what the legendary Jackie Robinson said:  “A life is not important except in the impact it has in other lives.”

Deputy Bellio's Final Blog

The night before I began the academy I remember pacing around, trying to make sure I had everything ready to go. I think my dad could tell how stressed out I was, as he repeatedly told me to relax. Those who know me well recognize that I am generally a pretty high-strung person, so when I am actually stressed out it can be concerning. 

While I was somewhat nervous, I was also really excited. All of my family members who have gone through public safety academies told me how much fun it was, and that it is a time you will never forget. Looking back on the last 22 weeks, I can attest that the academy has been a memorable time that I will always be grateful for.

There seemed to be three main phases in the academy. The first four or five weeks of the academy consisted of what I would call the “get it together” phase. This was when we were all figuring out the rules, forgetting things, getting to know each other, and working on self-discipline in general. Getting my daily routine down the first few weeks was the hardest part of the academy for me (in addition to learning how to shine my boots).

The second phase felt like we were flying by the seat of our pants, in the sense that we were constantly busy. We started our skills including arrest control and firearms, and we also had a variety of scenarios that made the days fly by. These weeks were incredibly fun, and I am disappointed they went by so quickly. Early in the academy Director Baca was correct in stating, “if you like to fly by the seat of your pants, you’re in the right place”.

In the final weeks of the academy, we have all honed in on our study skills to prepare for the final POST test. All of us have been devoted our study guides for weeks now, and are anxious to get the state exam out of the way. Prior to the academy, I had no idea just how much knowledge we would obtain. Regarding academics, there was a lot more work ahead of me than I anticipated. When I feel like I can’t possibly study anymore my mantra has been: “The price of excellence is discipline. The price of mediocrity is disappointment.” –William Arthur Ward

I have learned so much from this experience, both collectively and individually. The most important thing I have taken away from the last 22 weeks is that working as a team is crucial for this setting. If one of us fails, we all fail. Since we are all “type A” personalities, I quickly learned that none of us like having to ask for help, which is why operating as a team (no questions asked) is necessary. Additionally, being consistent was a personal goal I had from day one that I am glad I was able to accomplish. There were weeks that were more challenging that others, but being consistent regarding performance and effort is immensely important in this profession.

Three major memories come to mind if I had to sum up the highlights. First, Director Baca’s criminal code classes will always be a fond memory for recruits’. His stories (all of which are true) are unbelievable and hilarious which helped us remember the dense content of the criminal code. The worst memory I have is the day we were OC sprayed. As many recruits remember, I immediately got dizzy and could not see, and then ran into the large metal conex (storage container) behind me. Not so amusing at the time, but very funny looking back. I will always be thankful to have Recruit Mohr by my side that day to help me through it.

My two favorite activities during the academy were simunition scenarios and driving. Going one-on-one with two of our best shooters (Recruit Alonso and Recruit Medina) with simunition rounds was intimidating but incredibly fun. Both six round shoot-outs ended with a big hug and apologies for pelting one another. Lastly, I will never forget owning the reverse serpentine, k-turns, and lane changes during driving week with my partner in crime Recruit K. Smith.

It is difficult to end this lengthy blog post because there is so much more I could include… In closing, I want to say thank you to staff and instructors for their endless effort; thank you to my family and friends for their patience and support; and thank you to my fellow recruits for having my back, day in and day out. I am grateful beyond words.

Week 20—Recruit Steinmetz

Week 20 brought us a full week of classroom work. While we are all incredibly anxious to be done, we maintain our focus and continue to study for the final test. Monday was a full day on accident investigation. While it is unfortunate that accidents occur, it will be our job to document incidents on the roadway. Drawing diagrams of accidents was interesting and reminded me that my artistic skills my not be as good as others.

Tuesday we attended a lecture from Judge Pautler about courtroom testimony. It is important for us to understand courtroom proceedings because we will all eventually be involved in a case once we graduate. The best thing I took from the class was how crucial it is to tell the truth. Honesty in law enforcement is essential and straying from the truth can lead to the end of our careers and loss of trust from the public.

I was very thankful for Wednesday as it was a full day of criminal code review with Director Baca. I appreciate these days not only for the opportunity to review the Colorado Revised Statute book but also because it reminds me that the Academy staff want us to succeed and will do anything they can to help us pass the POST test.

On Friday we had our final Academy test. Designed to be similar to the upcoming POST exam, it was a great test of exactly how much we have learned throughout the entire Academy. After passing the test, I was much more confident in my knowledge and readiness for the state mandated exam on the 8th of June.

We are so close to the end, but each day we continue to challenge each other with questions and scenarios that we could possibly face. It is impressive to see how far each of us have come, and awesome to see everyone to ready to start their careers.

Week 19—Recruit Bellio

Almost daily Director Baca emails recruits a quote of the day. In the morning during formation we are asked to explain what the quote means to us. Wednesday’s quote was “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character” by Albert Einstein. This quote really speaks to the previous 19 weeks of the academy. All of us have had times when we had to work through challenges and put our mind over matter. Various obstacles challenged us both physically and mentally, but keeping a strong positive attitude has allowed character to build character that we will take with us throughout our career.

Speaking of physical obstacles, this week we completed the infamous Red Rocks Challenge, a milestone in our physical training program. Monday it was cold, foggy, and lightly raining during our early morning workout. We completed the challenge in a series of exercises to include box jumping the seats, running side to side down the rows, and climbing the planter boxes, just to name a few.

However, I think most of us found the bear crawl down the rows (yes, all of them) to be the most challenging part of the workout. I was impressed with our teamwork and encouragement for one another. Congrats to Recruit Derek Thorson (Arvada PD) who won the challenge, finishing in 45 minutes and 5 seconds. He absolutely earned it.

This week also included one of our more memorable topics: standard field sobriety testing (SFST). The training for SFST was one of the most intensive learning blocks we have had thus far. The information we learned on Wednesday was put to the test Friday evening when we administered sobriety tests on intoxicated individuals (who volunteered to help us learn).

There are three roadside tests that we learned to administer including horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and one leg stand. It was really interesting to see how some individuals could drink quite a bit and still successfully complete the walk and turn and one leg stand. The commonality in all instances was the horizontal gaze nystagmus, which showed an involuntary jerking of the eye after intoxication. As they say, “the eyes don’t lie!”

We had an amazing guest speaker from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). She truly put all of this in perspective by sharing the story of the night her daughter was killed by a drunk driver. No one should ever have to experience the pain that she felt when her daughter was killed. A rewarding aspect of this job is keeping the community safe, and our SFST training is just another way we can accomplish that.

Week 18—Recruit Steinmetz

This week was an entire week filled with a topic that most people recognize from television: Crime Scene Investigation. While many people believe that popular TV shows depict practical applications of Crime Scene Investigations, in real life, it is much different. Some of the more interesting lectures we had this week included blood-spatter analysis, developing fingerprints, and testing for different types of drugs.

Participating in a practical after every lecture, we were able to practice what we had learned about and refine our own skills. My favorite class included learning how to dust for fingerprints and then transfer the fingerprints I found to a paper to be submitted for possible identification. While we learned how to dust for fingerprints, we also learned how to properly record someone’s print by using ink and each other’s hands. 

Part of the reason why this lecture was so interesting to me is the fact that no two fingerprints are alike.  Each person is, in a way, coded, with their own identification and this code will follow us for our entire lives. 

After learning about crime scenes, how to develop them, protect them and interpret them, we had criminal code review with Director Baca on Friday. As we get closer to the end of the Academy, we each anticipate taking the state exam. I appreciate any extra time I get to review with the class and study for the exam.

After studying with Director Baca, we had a very important workout with our PT instructors. The workout, which is called “Murph”, is done in honor of Michael P. Murphy, a former US Navy Seal and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions in the War in Afghanistan. While the workout is physically demanding, the message behind it is to never give up and always fight on. 

We completed the workout as a class, supporting each other every step of the way, never giving up and fighting till the end. As I was trying to catch my breath, I looked around and was incredibly proud of my fellow recruits. We have all come a long way and to be able to finish this workout as one is a true testament to how hard everyone wants to achieve the goal of becoming POST-certified.

Week 17—Recruit Bellio

For the second time during the academy, we began our week up at Red Rocks Amphitheater. After all the snow over the weekend, we were happy to see clear skies and warmer weather Monday morning. Also for the second time in the academy, we were dressed in our Class A uniforms to take our academy group photo. Red Rocks made for a beautiful backdrop for our photos. With only five weeks left, having our uniforms on this week really made the light at the end of the tunnel apparent.

To receive our P.O.S.T. certification, we must pass a written exam, as well as three training programs for driving, arrest control, and firearms. This week we completed our written and physical testing for arrest control tactics (ACT). For most of us, this was the most anticipated of the skills tests in the academy. The ACT program ran for 11 weeks, which meant we had quite a bit of information to study. Everyone passed both the written and physical tests after plenty of studying and practice leading up to test day. Confidence is imperative to being successful in everything that we do. All of the hard work we put into our ACT training showed this week on test day.
Friday we attended the Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony. During this ceremony, four fallen officers from the past year were honored, including Jefferson County Sergeant Sean Renfro. 

This was the first time we were able to attend a ceremony like this as a member of the law enforcement community. Even though we will all go to our separate agencies upon graduation, we attended as one unified family. This unity was also apparent among the other sworn personnel from across the state, standing side-by-side as a cohesive group.

Mr. Stan Hilkey, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety spoke about the fallen officers and shared some of his experiences from the past year. When Cadet Trooper Taylor Thyfault was killed last year, Hilkey explained how impressed he was with the responding officers’ demeanor, sincerity and care for Trooper Thyfault and his family. These words really hit home for me. The bonds we create in this profession start in the academy, and continue to develop from there on out. Knowing that the brothers and sisters we work with are not simply coworkers, but family, makes me even more proud to be joining the law enforcement community.

Week 16—Recruit Steinmetz

Week 16 was a very entertaining week as we wrapped up our time at the gun range and went through our most intense scenarios. On Tuesday morning, we gathered at the range for a full day of work with different types of guns other than our duty weapons and to take our written test on gun safety and nomenclature required by POST. 

While it was very fun to shoot different types of guns that we would not normally have access to, it is more important that we learned how to safely handle them. On patrol, we will come across a variety of different weapons for a variety of different reasons. The best tool we can utilize in those situations is our knowledge on how to make those weapons safe. It was incredibly useful to learn how to unload and disable each gun we handled.

After everyone passed the written portion of the POST test, we spent the second half of the day in an exciting competition to determine which recruit was the best shot. The test was simple; knock down all of the steel targets while completing different reloading skills before the person next to you did. The competition was set up much like a tournament, allowing each of us two losses before we were knocked out. 

While the best shooters moved on, the rest of us stood around cheering on our classmates.  After a couple hours of intense matches, the finals consisted of Recruit DeVito (from Lakewood Police) and Recruit Saari (from JeffCo). While they both have proven to be incredibly strong shooters, Recruit Saari just edged out Recruit DeVito for the win and title of Top Shot. 

As we walked to our cars and tried to warm up, we all had smiles on our faces. The day not only proved how far we have come since beginning at the range, but also showed just how strong our comradery has grown. On a side note, Agent Marshall showed us all that when we struggle shooting the steel targets, sometimes you can be just as successful by throwing a rock.

On Wednesday, we mixed up our usual schedule by taking one of our academy tests. After learning that everyone passed, we began class lecture on vehicle searches. Lessons on searches and seizures are some of the most important we can have. Incorrectly searching can lead to violation of 4th Amendment rights resulting in loss of evidence and possibly loss of a case. I am once again thankful to be receiving the high level of instruction that is consistent throughout the academy.

Thursday brought us a tough day as half the day was spent in high-risk scenarios. In these scenarios, we faced the possibility of weapons, hostile suspects, and dangerous situations. We were challenged physically as well as mentally to utilize everything we have learned in arrest control to safely and effectively solve each problem. 

It is easy to see that everyone has progressed and become much more confident in dealing with these types of problems. The second half of the day was spent either practicing searches on cars or using paintball rounds to compete against each other at the gun range. While shooting the fake rounds at one another created a rush of adrenaline, it was awesome to see everyone maintain their resolve and stick to the tactics and fundamentals we have learned.

For the end of the week we practiced high-risk traffic stops. First moving at a slow crawl, by the end of the lecture we were all confident in the different positions and commands needed to successfully complete a high-risk stop. As a treat, the class was able to watch as the K-9 unit showed how extraction from a car is made by using one of the dogs. The one thing I am sure about after watching the dog remove a volunteer (in a safety suit of course) from a car is that I am glad the dog is on my team. The four-legged fearless animal is a well-trained tool that makes our job safer and easier.

Sixteen weeks down, only six left!!!


Week 15—Recruit Bellio

Week 15: Driving! The week we were all most excited for went by way too fast (no pun intended). Sunday began bright and early with quite a few inches of snow on the ground. Unfortunately we could not get on to the driving track that morning, so we had to wait until Monday to start the week. After getting word that we had the rest of our Sunday off, a brief snowball fight ensued, and then many of us got breakfast together.

On Monday and Tuesday we started by working on fundamentals. We began with simple procedures like forward and reverse serpentines, shuffle steering, parking, and braking. After a few hours of practice, most of us had a good understanding of the size of the car and were able to complete the drills easily.

A valuable lesson we all have learned at some point throughout the academy is that we should give it our all, and learn from our mistakes when they occur. At no other time will we have the opportunity to push our limits and drive the way we have during academy training. 

One recruit in particular experienced his limits firsthand this week, which resulted in the patrol car spinning out of control and going off the track not once, but twice. During the second spin-out, this recruit managed to hit a small white shed placed a little ways off the side of the track. And of course, this shack was literally the only structure in sight. After confirming that the recruit was not injured, we all had a good laugh about it, which will probably last at least until the end of the academy.

Prior to this week, I had never driven a car that went anywhere near as fast as the police interceptors. The interceptors have a lot of power, but have equally reliable braking and solid handling. My favorite exercise from the beginning of the week simulated accident avoidance. We were required to steer abruptly to the left around a hypothetical “object” while lightly braking, then coming to a complete stop all within about 50 feet. It was exciting to complete this exercise at almost 70 miles per hour.

Later in the week we drove at night and did a vehicle pursuit. In two-person teams, we pursued a fleeing suspect vehicle around the track with lights and sirens. The primary vehicle called out the initial stop to Dispatch, then followed the suspect car closely. The secondary vehicle proceeded to cover the primary car while airing the details of the pursuit to Dispatch. Driving with lights and sirens at night while having to talk frequently on the radio definitely challenged our ability to multitask.

On Saturday it was time to put our training to work and test our skills. Instructors had us complete the P.O.S.T. course backwards twice to mess with our orientation of the track. After those two laps, we were given the opportunity to finally complete our final P.O.S.T. driving test. Almost all recruits passed on their first try. It was great to see everyone’s hard work and focus pay off.

Week 14—Recruit Steinmetz

Week 14 was by far one of the most fun weeks I have had through this point in the academy. On Monday we spent the day in the class room as we learned about Rapid and Immediate Deployment (or RAID for short) and High-Risk Traffic Stops. While it is a lot like our lessons on building searches, the strategy behind RAID tactics is simple; swiftly locate and stop a threat to society. 

The development of RAID has been brought on by several heinous acts our state and country have endured. Like many things we learn in the academy, I am grateful to have this knowledge and tool to add to my repertoire, but pray that I never have to call upon it. That being said, I am confident that every single one of my fellow recruits and current officers would not waiver when answering the call.

Tuesday brought a normal work day as we split in our groups and spent half the day either at the gun range with Deputy Hoffman and Sergeant Greer or practicing arrest control with Agent Beers. It is amazing to see the kind of progress we have made as a class in both of these incredibly important aspects of becoming an officer.

On Wednesday, we were able to utilize what we learned on Monday about traffic stops and practice pulling over cars, communicating to dispatch on the radio and contacting drivers. Turning on the lights and sirens of the squad cars was exactly as exciting as I had expected. Even though communicating on the radio at first proved to be awkward, practicing all day helped me to become much more confident in my abilities.

Thursday was new as the whole class gathered on the gun range for a full day of firearm practice and competition. While half of the class spent the morning practicing our normal skills, the other half either competed against each other on the tactical range or learned how to properly exit a vehicle and engage a threat. On the tactical range we were paired against each other to see who could knock down the most steel targets the fastest. 

Up to this point we have primarily worked on accuracy, so it great to see recruits take out targets quickly.  While I personally cannot ever beat Recruit Stiltner head to head, as a team we proved to be unstoppable. A special congratulations to Recruit Lovato who--never touching a gun before the academy--kept practicing and giving all her effort in order to pass the POST required test on her final attempt. It is this kind of diligence and focus that embodies the kind of officer we are all striving to become.

As a side note, I would like to thank Volunteer R. Okada. On our time at the range, we have had many instructors who have helped us develop our skills and confidence but none who have brought the kind of joyfulness he has to what is otherwise a very stressful environment. Thursday marked his last day helping us and I am honored to have spent time with him.

On Friday, we teamed up with Jefferson County SWAT and practiced RAID techniques in an abandoned building in Westminster. The members of SWAT have been incredibly supportive and encouraging during our time together, and this was again apparent as we ran through scenarios during the day.  As I mentioned before, the type of instruction we receive in the Combined Regional Academy is of the highest caliber and JeffCo SWAT certainly exemplifies these qualities.

Next week, we are all excited to spend the entire week learning how to drive in the squad cars!!    

Week 13--Recruit Bellio

Week 13 of the academy offered recruits the opportunity to acquire new skills, as well as test ourselves on more familiar skills we have learned and improved over the past 12 weeks.

On Tuesday during arrest control, we were trained to use our collapsible batons. This training consisted of two different methods of using the collapsible baton, closed-mode and open-mode. When learning these methods we practiced striking the bags that our partners would hold. It is important to see first-hand how much force our batons generate.

Additionally on Tuesday, we had an interesting day at the range given the wind speeds approaching 50 miles per hour. Squad A, who shot earlier in the day, was able to shoot for a little while, in between targets being violently ripped off the frames and traveling miles down the road. Later that evening Squad B attempted to post targets, but after about 30 unsuccessful minutes of chasing paper targets around, our night shoot had to be rescheduled. Our second day of shooting however was incredibly rewarding, as almost all recruits passed the POST qualification course on the first try. I am overly impressed with our progress as a group.

One aspect I like most about the academy is the amount of quality scenarios we have. Sometimes the scenarios are geared towards report writing, while others test our verbal communication skills in addition to other abilities. Thursday’s scenarios, however, tested our arrest control skills. We broke up fights, talked to suicidal parties, arrested combative individuals, and addressed domestic situations involving children. Each of these situations is truly eye-opening to the variety of things we will be dealing with on a daily basis.

Before concluding this post, I want to explain the role of class leadership, which has not been mentioned much yet in our prior blog posts. Every two weeks, five recruits are selected by staff as members of class leadership who function as part of the chain of command. We have four squad leaders who report to the class leader. The role of the class leader is to be responsible for the class, as well as be the central point of communication between staff and recruits. If something goes wrong, it is the class leader’s job to correct it. I was selected as class leader for weeks 11 through 12.

Like all of the former class leaders, I was not incredibly excited to be selected initially. Even though each class leader has made it through their two week duration successfully, being class leader results in added responsibility and pressure. Both staff and fellow recruits have high expectations of each class leader. As I mentioned in Week 11’s post, that was a very busy and unpredictable week, which challenged me. Even though the position is initially dreaded, I think every class leader is as appreciative as I am for the opportunity to lead, learn from mistakes, and celebrate class accomplishments.