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.