Friday, November 13, 2009

Off to the Academy...

So now you have a job. Your agency has hired you and will pay your way through the police academy.

The first experience you will have at most academies is orientation. This usually takes place one evening during the week before the start of the academy. You will want to wear a suit to the orientation, unless your particular academy says otherwise.

When you go to your orientation, if you're lucky, your personnel person (the person who handled your application process) will accompany you.

The first thing you are likely to notice upon entering the room is the HUGE stack of books on the table in front of you. You'll be taking all of those with you when you leave today. And yes, you will be reading every last one of those books during the next 18 to 28 weeks.

Your Recruit Training Officers (RTO's) will speak for a few minutes and give you some idea of what you're in for. It is likely that you will lose your first academy mates tonight, before you've even gotten to know them. Some people see the books and the RTO's, and give up on the spot.

After they've put a little fear in you, the RTO's will tell you when and where you are expected to report, what you're expected to bring, and how you're expected to be dressed. They will tell you to bring everything you think you may need. This is a hint. Bring your PT gear.

When the RTO's dismiss you, you get to carry 32 or so books out to your car and leave. You now have four days or so to iron your uniform, shine the hell out of your boots, and read your procedure manual that was given to you during orientation, and you're expected to know front to back on the first day.

On Monday, you'll report to the academy.

In my particular academy, our first day was spent mostly being welcomed by the Sheriff, meeting and hearing from some of the department and academy management, and meeting our RTO's and instructors. Your situation may or may not be similar. About 1400 hours, we started thinking "Cool, the first day is a breeze. No yelling. No PT."

"You have ten minutes to get into your PT gear and form up out on the track. MOVE!"


Ten minutes later, about half the class was on the track in formation. The rest were in some part of the preparation sequence. After probably another ten minutes, we were all in ramshackle formation on the track. Because it took us so long, we did push-ups.

LOTS of push-ups. And sit-ups. And combat squats. And running in place. And did I mention push-ups?

Forty-five minutes later, we were tired. Then we ran.

The first two weeks are intended to be very tough. This is another place where they try to weed out the non-hackers. As you progress through the academy, your RTO's will treat you less like shit, and more like a human being.

Be ready for tests every week, and more PT.

What I found to be the key to success in the academy was teamwork. It is much less difficult (not to say easy) for a team to succeed than for a group of individuals. You will be around these people five days a week for as much as six months. Get to know them. Learn to work well with them. There will be people in your class you will greatly dislike. There will also be many who will become lifelong friends.

I have been in the military, and I have been in a number of paramilitary organizations, and the academy was the most difficult and most rewarding of them all. It's a cast iron bitch, but it's worth it on graduation day.

After you graduate from the academy, the learning is not over. It has just begun.

Tomorrow you start Field Training...


Anonymous said...

At my husband's academy they talked tough about weeding out the losers but in the end, they let them slide. My husband was one of the hard workers and it was hard for him to, for example, have to retake tests he did well on so that one or two had a chance to pass the second time. Frustrating.

Officer Krupke said...

And try not to be "That guy"; the one who constantly does dumb stuff for which the rest of the class is punished.

Every class has at least one. Don't be him/her.

*Goddess* said...

When I watched The Academy, it was interesting to see teamwork come in to play. When the guys worked alone, they didn't do nearly as well as when they worked and supported each other, but it seemed like a difficult message for them to get at first.

Triple Beeper said...

Most of the guys I've watched go through either a fire academy or a police academy come out looking like an entirely different person after the PT whips them into shape. And I do mean whip. I admire you guys for toughing it out through all of that!

Officer "Smith" said...

There was no letting losers slide in the academy I went through. There are academies that will do that, of which I will mention no names, but mine is not one of them.