Monday morning began bright and early, with test anxiety for most. We were ready to get the second exam out of the way for the week. Many recruits improved significantly from the previous week, while some still struggled. We all provided support for one another, regardless of each individual recruit’s outcome.
Even some of the recruits who passed the test were still dissatisfied, simply because we are all striving for perfection. Even though we arrive each day as 50 individuals, we succeed and fail as one coherent team. At the end of the day we all have to keep in mind that struggle is the evidence of progress.
Immediately following our exam Monday, we were relieved to find out that our OC spray training and practical had to be rescheduled. Although many of us were prepared to get it over with, disappointment was not overwhelmingly apparent. Our week was filled with more frequent “motivational moments” due to errors on our behalf. Luckily I think we are all aware that it is best to work through mistakes now during training, rather than later. The more we can refine our day-to-day performance, the better peace officers we will be as a result.
An instructor this week also emphasized the point that life is not fair, and it is best to remove that particular word from our vocabulary altogether. Fairness applies to many things in life, but quite honestly does not apply among us or within law enforcement as a whole. Beginning on January 11th 2016, our individual standards and expectations were raised by joining this profession.
This week we discussed crisis negotiation, criminal code, preliminary investigations, victim rights, search and seizure, use of force, and the judicial process. My personal favorite was our class on preliminary investigations. The instructors went into extensive detail on securing crime scenes, priorities for first responders, as well as different types of evidence.
Another interesting and immensely important class from this week was the use of force. Included in our use of force class was an incredible personal story from a Lakewood detective. The narrative began with the detective’s experience as a new officer, including his initial feelings and adrenaline dumps when responding to calls. He continued by explaining the complexity of situations, and how it only takes a split second for something to happen. For example, this detective had the unfortunate experience of being shot on duty. He took us through the play-by-play, including the dispatch tape. It was amazing how stressful just listening to that tape was.
While waiting for help to arrive, and on the way to the hospital, the detective never lost hope or gave up. It takes a high degree of mental strength to remain composed in a life-threatening situation like his. In the years following the shooting, this detective dealt with unimaginable challenges including the loss of an immediate family member, post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, not to mention numerous surgeries and continuous pain in his leg. We were grateful to have the privilege to hear this experience first-hand from the detective.
A tremendous dose of reality was served that afternoon; a split second can change someone’s life completely.