Week 2—Recruit Steinmetz

My name is Recruit Nathanael Steinmetz and as Recruit Bellio mentioned last week I will be writing the other half of the recruit blog documenting our experiences for the 2016-1 Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Lakewood Police Department Combined Regional Police Academy. 

First, a little information about myself.  I was born in Littleton and grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. After graduating from Highlands Ranch High School, I was recruited to play Division One baseball at the University of Northern Colorado.  While attending UNC, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a Minor in Business Administration. 

After graduating in 2013, I took to the oil fields in the DJ Basin (greater northern Colorado/ southern Wyoming area) where I worked for company specializing in the hydro-excavation of existing utility lines so new oil, natural gas or water pipes could be installed.  Then, in the first week of December 2015, recruiting Deputy Mark Barrick contacted me and offered me a job with Jefferson County which I humbly accepted. 

I originally applied to JCSO because, during my last semester at the University Northern Colorado, when one of my professors approached me about a recruiting coordinator looking for former student-athletes.  Once I got in contact with Deputy Barrick, I scheduled a time to come to come in and discuss the career possibilities with JCSO. 

This talk really just opened my eyes and showed me that Jefferson County is the place where I belong. JCSO is the only agency to which I applied and I am extremely thankful and honored to be where I am now!!

This second week brought a number of different challenges for the recruits. On Monday, we had our first test on the material we learned during lectures in week one.  For some of us, the exam was a great way to show how much effort we’d put into studying.  For others, it was a wake-up call to take class--and the accompanying at-home studying--a bit more seriously. 

It’s a bit unnerving to take a test that might impact the future of your career. Even with a high number of passing scores, we all have room to grow in knowledge and preparation.  Props to Recruits Monell, Adams, and Diehl for scoring the highest on the exam, each scoring 96%.  While those who failed (scoring less than 80%) quickly understood exactly why they missed specific questions, they were afforded the opportunity to study with Director Baca in early-morning review sessions.

This week also presented the class with our first “motivational moments” as lack of respect while addressing academy staff led us to morning push-ups and an afternoon run in our business attire to make sure “the light pole down the street was still firmly attached to the ground.”  Those recruits with military experience are looking out for and teaching the rest of the class about appropriate ways to address academy staff (i.e., “sir or ma’am”, Deputy, Agent, Sergeant, Director, and so on).

Week two also brought us our first scenarios involving the questioning of subjects and problem-oriented policing. On Monday, our scenario was responding to a domestic violence complaint where, along with a partner, we needed to interview, question, and ascertain facts from different members of role-playing academy staff.  It was a good thing I was paired with Recruit McKeon, who had formal medical questioning experience, because I was completely caught off-guard.  This lesson reminded me we need to be ready for any situation at any time. 
Our second scenario entailed going out into the public in our squads to examine an area needing a fix-up to improve security and/or safety, and to then provide specific suggestions for these improvements. This problem-oriented policing showed us that our job in law Enforcement will always be changing and evolving.

As we continue to dive into the academic portion of our academy experience, we are constantly reminded of one thing: we are together and we will eventually represent the law enforcement community as a whole.  Our brothers and sisters in class will become part of our professional, nationwide family. 

Week 1—Recruit Bellio

Law enforcement is a hot topic in the country these days. Citizens have never been more interested than they are today in learning about how and why law enforcement operates the way that it does in their community.

That’s why we’re sharing two perspectives with you as we kick off the 2016-1 Jefferson County Sheriff and Lakewood Police Department Combined Regional Academy. We will alternate each week with a blog from a JeffCo female recruit and the next week one from a male recruit as they go through training.

We want you to understand how we train our deputies and why it’s important. We also want you to get to know them as they’ll be working in your neighborhoods.

We hope you’ll join us for their journey each week and offer your thoughts, questions and encouragement along the way.

And now, Week 1, from Recruit Bellio:

Welcome to the blog of the 2016-1 Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Lakewood Police Department Combined Regional Academy. First off, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Recruit Breann Bellio. I grew up in Arvada, attending Pomona High School. Following high school, I attended Metropolitan State University and the University of Memphis, earning my bachelor’s degree in political science. I also attended the University of Colorado Denver, earning my master’s degree in political science (thesis pending academy graduation).

My co-blogger, Recruit Nate Steinmetz, and I are excited to keep readers informed about our experiences over the next 21 weeks. Anticipation has ceased. The wait is finally over. All 50 eager recruits, including myself, were thrown into the deep end this week.

It quickly became apparent not only that expectations are high for our class, but also that competition is intense among recruits. There are a variety of stressors influencing us all. Many recruits leave their kiddos each morning without saying goodbye, others drive a 50-plus mile commute, and of course all of us face the little things like forgetting our perfectly-shined boots. While these factors affect our day, we are all in it together, on our toes from roll call to dismissal.

While competition is naturally intense among us, it has been astounding to see the comradery present from day one. Monday we completed our first fitness test, which was a short max intensity assessment of our level of physical capability. Many recruits excelled, and some struggled. As I was face down on the cold, wet, pavement completing my push-ups, I could hear others cheering me and my fellow recruits on. We did not even know each other’s names yet, but we all believed in one another. By the end of the week we all knew we had our brother’s or sister’s back. The following day, Academy Director Philip Baca’s selected quote was “Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.” When he read the quote at roll call, its meaning was absolutely apparent.

The physical training is only a small part of the challenges faced in the academy. This week we learned about ethics, the criminal code, leadership and the criminal process, among other subjects. Each instructor explained the subject in detail, providing real life examples. We also received unexpected and incredibly entertaining liveliness through various classes, causing bursts of laughter and lasting memories. Having experts from so many areas is in some ways overwhelming, and definitely indicates that the amount of knowledge we will obtain over the next 21 weeks will be incredible. In addition, if the realization had not yet hit us that we had finally made it to our long-awaited career, it hit hard this week.

Of course there is still a huge degree of uncertainty. For example, we are still unsure what to do when certain staff members make sarcastic comments: laugh or take notes. As the academy goes on, the uncertainty will subside and it will all become more manageable.

Recently someone wise told me that it will become more manageable, not easier. In my opinion, it does not ever get easier, you just get better. This week our class selected the motto “Courage, Honor, Fortitude.” The next few months we will be earning that motto, facing our fears, representing JCSO by leading by example, and persevering as a team.

Monday, January 11th, 50 recruits walked into the academy as strangers with the same goal. 21 weeks from now, we will have lasting friendships and a whole lot of hard work behind us.

Coming next week: Meet Recruit blogger Nate Steinmetz.