I am happy to write that we have made it through the busiest week of the academy yet! Between a snow storm, night shoot, ground fighting, and two full days of scenarios, I think it is fair to say that we were exhausted by the time Friday evening arrived. Even though this week was tough to get through, each experience was unique and every mistake made is now committed to memory to avoid in the future.
Monday morning after our exam, we completed our first physical fitness session at Red Rocks. It was absolutely perfect weather for a workout! We ran the bleachers, stairs, and climbed the planter boxes in teams. The intense workout and beautiful scenery was a great start to the week.
At this point in the academy all of our skills are beginning to mesh together more cohesively. We had another day filled with in-progress call scenarios. We also had our building search practical, which was really fun to physically execute.
It was impressive to watch the JeffCo SWAT team demonstrate how to complete a methodical search with effortless precision. We were also able to see the police K9s that work with the SWAT team in action. Recruits got to wear a padded sleeve and take a bite from the dogs, which was literally a unique point of view.
We trained at night during firearms this week, which was incredibly fun! Given my personal lack of shooting experience prior to the academy, I did not realize how bright the muzzle flash is when it is dark. We also completed our first training sessions in the computer-based simulator at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The simulator projects a scenario that allows participants to interact in real time. Many of us realized that our reaction time, while decent, was not nearly as fast as we thought it was. Working with this tool allowed recruits to identify critical areas for improvement.
Additionally this week, we completed our ground fighting portion of arrest control. There are a few recruits who have previous experience wrestling, but overall this was a new skill for us to learn.
After about seven hours of practicing escape techniques, we spent six minutes grappling with a skilled instructor. This proved to be extremely difficult, but really made everyone aware of how a short amount of time in a stressful situation can feel like forever. Similar to our physical training, I would argue that such training is entirely dependent on mental preparation and stamina.
The completion of Week 11 marks the half-way point for class 2016-1! Eleven more to go!