This week recruits began wearing their ballistic vests. Placing my vest on underneath my uniform shirt on Monday morning gave me a much different feeling than I previously had the last six weeks. I thought about this a lot on my drive to the academy. Upon arriving that morning, Sergeant Swavely informed us in roll call that a Denver Police officer was just involved in a shooting. As the week progressed, the news continued to get worse regarding officer involved shootings in Colorado. These tragic occurrences are a continuous reminder of the danger involved in this line of work.
Officer safety was a continued theme during our first full week of arrest control training. Our lead arrest control instructor, Agent Beers, stressed the importance of repetition and precision when practicing search techniques. We need to be accurate and pay attention to detail so that we are prepared when we do find weapons when searching. Going through the motions is not enough.
Speaking of attention to detail, this week was particularly challenging for our class as a whole. We had far too many “motivational moments.” All of the mistakes made this week were small errors, but are absolutely inexcusable. I think the biggest factor contributing to these mistakes is our change in schedule. This week we started our skills portion of the academy which includes firearms and arrest control.
We all just got our routine down pat, and this week it intensified. Various different things are needed for skills days including different uniforms and equipment. In addition, on skills’ days we have to travel from each location in a timely manner. Our new schedule will become more manageable in the coming weeks as we adjust. In the meantime, we must focus. Focus. Coincidentally our theme of the week.
Officer safety is the most important subject we will learn in the academy. It also intertwines throughout everything else we are learning. We began talking about officer safety four weeks ago. However, last weekend specifically I really noticed these concepts becoming subconscious habits for me personally. One evening as I stood in line to pick up food, someone got in line behind me and kept their hands in their pockets the whole time. Even though standing with your hands in your pockets might be a common posture for most people, I could not help but feel uneasy since this is a huge factor in officer safety. Later on that weekend, I was at a family birthday party when I noticed my sister staring at me. When she noticed my eye contact, she said “Gosh, you even stand like a cop now.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little, but really took a second to appreciate these habits being instilled in all of us.
Our week ended on an interesting note when we learned about narcotics. During this class we were able to see a K-9, named “Boo,” in action. I was really impressed with the dog’s ability to locate hidden drugs so quickly. Many of us were also surprised as to how friendly and energetic Boo was. Later Friday afternoon we had a challenging physical training session to finish off the week. Overall this week was very challenging, but weeks like this build character.