Archive for the ‘Police Academy Training’ Category
I’m sorry, but some people are simply not designed to be cops. There, I’ve said it. And it’s true.
Ask any police officer and they’ll tell you that it takes a special kind of person to successfully wear a gun and badge. Sure, “law dawgs” come in all shapes, sizes, skin colors, and from varying backgrounds. But there was one officer who shouldn’t have made it past the interview stage, and that cop was quickly nicknamed “The Little Cop Who Couldn’t.”
First of all, for the purpose of this blog we need to assign a name to the officer—a gender-neutral name. Therefore, it’ll be up to you to paint your own mental picture of him/her. And the name I choose is Pat (could go either way with this one – remember Pat on SNL?).
The story goes something like this…
Pat was a unique police officer who stood at a towering 4’10″ tall, with shoes on. Not a single supply company stocked police uniforms in child sizes, so Pat’s clothing had to be specially made and ordered. Even then, a good bit of tailoring had to be done, snipping here and stitching there, to insure a proper fit. And if someone had bronzed Pat’s work shoes they’d have looked a lot like “baby’s first shoes.”
During basic training, one of the practical exercises for the class was to direct traffic at a busy city intersection. Trainees were required to be in full uniform for the exercise, including hats. Well, they just don’t make police hats that small, so Pat borrowed one from a fellow classmate, looking like a kid playing dress-up in adult clothing.
Anyway, the trainee who’d just completed his turn in the intersection stopped traffic from all four directions so Pat could assume the position in the middle of the street. With arms outstretched and a short blast from a whistle, Pat then sharply and crisply motioned for one lane of traffic to move forward. And all was going well until Pat gave the whistle another tweet to stop the oncoming traffic, and then turned to the left to start the next lane of traffic moving. Well, Pat’s little head turned left, rotating inside the cap, but the too-large hat remained facing forward. The entire class erupted is laughter.
Pat once responded to a shoplifting call—an 11-year-old girl swiped a candy bar from a local K-Mart—and just as Pat was about to enter the store the little kid ran outside. Pat grabbed the little darlin’ who then pushed Pat down to the pavement. Pat got up and grabbed the 70-ish-pound kid and it was on. According to bystanders, who, by the way, called 911 to report an officer needing assistance, the child was absolutely beating the tar out of Pat. One witness told responding officers that Pat had resembled one of those blow-up clown punching bags that pops back upright after each blow.
Then there was the time when Pat’s fellow officers had responded to a large fight outside a local bar. The dispatcher cautioned that weapons were involved and that several people were already injured and down. Pat was in the middle answering a domestic he-said/she-said when the call came in.
Responding officers saw the large crowd and immediately called for backup, which, at that point, meant calling in sheriff’s deputies and state troopers, since every available officer, except Pat, was already on the scene. The fight was a tough battle and officers and bad guys were basically going at it, toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow. Officers were outnumbered 4-to-1, at least.
And then they heard it…a lone siren wailing and yelping in the distance, like the sound of a ship’s horn mournfully floating across vast salt water marshes at low tide. Soon, intermittent flashes of blue light began to reflect from brick storefronts and plate glass windows. And then out of the darkness appeared Pat’s patrol car, bearing down on the parking lot and the fight that was well underway.
Pat didn’t bother stopping at the curb. Instead, the tiny officer, who by the way, had to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel (no, I’m not kidding), pulled the car directly into the parking lot beside the action, flung open the car door, and stepped out. Well, sort of. Pat’s pistol somehow had become entangled in the seat belt, which sort of reeled Pat back into the car like a Yo-Yo on the upswing. Pat’s Maglite hit the pavement, coming apart and spilling batteries in all sorts of directions. The pillow fell out of the car and slid beneath the vehicle. And the hat. Pat had donned the cop/bus driver hat, which, of course remained motionless while Pat’s softball-size head spun around like a lighthouse beacon as he/she surveyed the scene.
Suddenly, as if a magic spell had been cast, the fight stopped, with everyone turning to watch “The Pat Show” unfold. Even the bad guys chuckled at the ridiculousness before them—Pat on hands and knees retrieving lost gear and, of course, the pillow. But, at least the fight was over.
By the way, Pat’s hands were so small that the department had to purchase a pistol that’s a bit smaller than standard cop issue, but Pat’s index finger was still too short to reach the trigger. Instead, he/she learned to shoot using his/her middle finger to pull the trigger. Didn’t matter, because Pat failed to shoot a satisfactory score on the range during the first annual weapons qualification.
So I guess the true test of becoming a police officer is not how strong the desire or how big the heart, it’s how well the head fits the hat. And, of course, you must be “this tall” to drive a police car.
Graduation from a police academy is a moment in life that is forever ingrained into an officer’s mind. The event marks the end of a grueling period of study and intense physical training. And, it’s the beginning of an exciting and rewarding career. For many, that career is the dream of a lifetime.
Last week, Denene and I had the pleasure of attending a police academy graduation in Northeast North Carolina. And to make the event even more special for us, our nephew was one of the graduating cadets.
You’ve all heard me preach about the differences in law enforcement agencies and procedures throughout the country. And, well, police academies and their procedures and rules also differ throughout the country. North Carolina is no exception. In the Tar Heel state, most police officers receive their academy training in community college public safety programs, such as the program where our very own Writers’ Police Academy takes place.
In the North Carolina system, officer-candidates pay their own way, registering for and attending, a college Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program, and many recruits do this before they have a job with a police agency. They do so hoping a chief or sheriff will recognize their abilities and hire them, and many do. Our nephew is great example of how this works. A sheriff hired him when he was halfway through the academy training, which also meant his new boss picked up the tab for his training, and he began paying his new employee a salary while he finished the academy.
In other states, officers are hired by a department and are then sent to the training academy where they’ll receive the required certification to work as a police officer. By the way, a sheriff may appoint deputy sheriffs who can work, including making lawful arrests, for up to one year before attending any training whatsoever.
Anyway, back to the nephew’s graduation…
The 41st Academy, consisting of several jurisdictions, began as a class of 21, but only 5 made the cut. That’s right, 16 cadets didn’t make it to the end, dropping out for various reasons—failed academically, couldn’t take the pressure, couldn’t handle the physical training, failed the driving or firearms testing, etc. As a result, as with all police academies, the 41st was left with the best of the best.
Each police academy class elects a class president. Deputy Phillip Massey (far left) was the president of this academy class (Deputy Massey is also our nephew). It is the job of the class president to keep morale high and to motivate his/her fellow cadets.
The formal ceremony began with an honor guard’s presentation of the colors (state and U.S. flags).
Waiting to march in. By the way, Deputy Massey was represented by four generations of family members—his parents and sister, his grandmother, uncles and aunt, and his 104-year-old great grandmother, were all seated in the audience.
Receiving the certificate from academy officials (BLET coordinator, Dean, President, and academy staff). Awards were also presented for top driver, top shooter, and highest academic achievement. The achievement awards brought back fond memories. I was top shooter in my academy class (I won’t tell the score but it was somewhere between 98 and 100), and I graduated with a GPA of 99.63. Sounds like a great average but even with that score I wound up third academically, out of a class of dozens.
After speeches and words of encouragement, the ceremony ended with the retrieval of the colors…
…and with five brand new, certified police officers ready to hit the streets.
The four deputy sheriffs and one city police officer began their four month field training program last Monday.
Deputy Massey received the Top Driver Award and the “class president” certificate.
The second graduation was over, Denene and I started in on Deputy Nephew…”Always wear your vest…Don’t take any chances…Don’t trust anyone…Be Careful…Stay alert…” Phillip rolled his eyes and politely smiled as we made our way through the been-there, done-that checklist, and I understood as only another cop could.
Anyway, congratulations 41st, and stay safe guys.
*A note to our grandson…don’t get any ideas. The world also needs plumbers, carpenters, doctors, teachers, and writers—hey, that’s a great idea. Writing about cops and robbers is much safer…