View Full Version : Advice for aspiring officers
Just some random thoughts that came to mind. This isn't to deter anyone, but to give a reality check to those who don't fully understand what a trainee goes through. Everyone knows the positives, but I have been thinking of a couple former trainees who didn't expect the negatives and probably hadn't been clued in at Recruiting & Hiring.
-You will work on Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve, your children's birthdays and your anniversary.
-You will work overtime, and your 10 hour shift will turn into 18 hours, meaning you will not be home on time to go to the lake as scheduled.
-You will be questioned, challenged and accused.
-You will be expected to have encyclopedic knowledge of search and seizure law and policy, and be required to apply it with only seconds to recall and understand it.
-You will be marginalized and treated like a rookie who doesn't know how to the job. That is because it's true, and you are.
-Your FTO will deliberately do things like let you get halfway across the county in the wrong direction before hinting that you might not get to where you though you were going, or let you get two blocks away, tell you the road is closed and to find another route, or distract you with any number of questions or instructions. These things are done to benefit you and make you more effective, and might save your life some night.
-If you don't handle stress well, your FTO will pick up on that and turn up the stress. This is to get you used to it and train you to handle it. The stress of training inside a patrol car is nothing compared to a gunfight or wrestling with a parolee who's twice your size. Suck it up, breathe, think and get better.
-You will not get the days and shifts you want until you have a few years on.
-You will get written evaluations every day of field training. They will pull no punches and sometimes make you feel like the most incompetent cop who ever came down the pike. Every one of us, including the FTO who wrote the eval, has been there and probably earned just as scathing an eval at some point.
You will succeed and go as far as you want to. Just keep reality in mind and understand that the first year of your career will be high stress, little time for having fun outside work and you will be drinking from a fire hose.
Thanks for this. I just started applying to be a recruit....any other advice would be taken and appreciated.
I will add the following for Triple7 and anyone else who gives a damn.
I'm not an FTO (I just got turned down :rofl: ) but I have been through the San Jose model FTO program THREE times, been through a military style academy, taken two state certification exams and who knows how much in service over my career.
What you did in your last job doesn't matter.
What or how you did in college or the military can be an asset, but the FTO doesn't want to hear it.
If you know where you are heading for training before you get there, get a head start on geography.
Bring extra socks and underwear to work. Have an extra pair of boots and a clean uniform in your locker.
Wear a vest, even if you have to buy a used one for $50.
Make sure you communicate with whatever family you have. Don't ever stop doing that.
If you start getting burned out (once you are on your own for a while) take some time off.
There is a ****load more. I'll add to this when I think of it.
WATCH THEIR HANDS.
Thank you both for the advice and insight!
I don't work the street and have spent my entire career in the jail. First as a booking officer and now as a medic. Here's some things from a different angle.
- search your people before you put them in the car, after you take them out and before you drop them off. Yes the jail staff is gonna do it again. Don't take offense, that's their job and their hindquarters on the line.
- don't try and sneak the sick or injured ones in. If they gotta go get cleared by the ER do it on your in and not after the intake officer refuses to accept them. It saves everyone time.
- don't treat the jail staff like your red-headed step brother. Lots of good cops have come out of the jail. Don't talk to them like their stupid or think that they're there because they can't hack it on the street. Some of them yes, all of us no.
- know what the heck your booking your person on.
Again I'm not an FTO and I haven't worked the street so take it for what it's worth.
"Congratulations to making it to Phase 3 but you still do NOT get to decide where to eat." :supergrin:
Re-Read the Daily Observation Report your FTO filled out so you will learn not to make the same mistake twice.
Choose your words carefully when talking with other recruits in FT. THAT recruit might not be around much longer and you'd be surprised the things you say that gets back to your FTO. In fact, LISTEN 4X as much as you speak.
Find the officer on your shift that has his crap together and that others admire and model your behavior after him. Some of my fellow FTO behavior was abysmal and you do not want to be like them.
Don't be indecisive but it's ok to ask logical questions on something you've never handled before.
Listen to that freakin dispatcher and back your adjoining beat officers up. Don't even think of turning on that car radio to hear music or sports scores.
Turn your cell to vibrate and limit your cell usage to dinner breaks or when your back in the station doing a report.
Search and research your arrested person. Search the squad prior to leaving the jail.
Stay in shape and form good habits about what you eat on duty.
Don''t be lulled into dropping your guard. Be suspicious of everyone, yes, everyone. Watch those hands, watch your approach to a call, and have an exit route envisioned where ever you are.
Oh, don't catch your pant leg on fire from a flare when you work a major. Pants aren't cheap. :supergrin:
I haven't posted this in a while, but here is my list.
My Top 50:
1. WATCH THEIR HANDS!
2. People are watching you. How you carry yourself goes a long way. Everyone is looking at you; good guys, bad guys, kids, old ladies and dogs are sizing you up every minute you are in uniform. Look the part.
3. Dead bodies stink, murder victims are messy, and traffic accidents can be bloody.
4. People are drunk. People lie.
5. If you think it can’t happen, it will…
6. Murphy likes to come and say hi. A lot...
7. The job changes people. It is neither good nor bad, it just is.
8. Safe practical jokes are a stress relief. Don’t get bent out of shape when they happen to you. Get revenge.
9. Have fun.
10. Lots of fun.
11. Combatants in domestics WILL turn on you when you attempt to arrest their "loved one" who just stomped a mud hole in their butt.
12. People only drink two beers these days.
13. Stay off your cell phone except for business and emergencies.
14. Your badge will get you babes, but babes will get your badge.
15. Just because you CAN drive Mach 2 with your hair on fire doesn’t always mean you should. Evaluate the urgency of the call.
16. Be firm but be fair, your going to have a reputation whether you want one or not. You determine what your reputation will be.
17. Wave to kids and senior citizens.
18. Buy lemonade at a lemonade stand and drink it, no matter how bad it tastes.
19. If you have a take-home car, carry a teddy bear or two in the trunk for a call where a kid might be involved. It very well could be the only toy they might have gotten, and it will help them out.
20. If you have to arrest someone, especially a guy in front of his kids, try to appeal to doing it like a gentleman. Never give up your safety though. If he doesn’t want to play nice, so be it.
21. Learn people’s behaviors.
22. If you have a computer, run plates. Lots and lots of plates.
23. That badge doesn’t mean you’re Superman. Remember that. And, be careful where and to whom you flash your badge at. Because there are people in this world that are capable of taking it away from you and putting it in places that make it uncomfortable to sit down.
24. If it’s a HAZMAT situation, get back until you think you’re safe. Then get back more.
25. Do the right thing, even though nobody is looking. No matter how much it hurts.
26. Practice your weapon malfunction drills/tactical reloads. In combat you resort to your training.
27. Be honest. If you’re testifying in court and realize you made a mistake with something, be honest. It’s better to admit a mistake and lose a case than to risk perjuring yourself and being known as a liar.
28. Talk to a homeless person the same as you’d talk to a CEO.
29. Be firm, be fair, and have a plan to kill anyone you encounter.
30. Don't expect to be thanked for doing your job. Because when it does happen, it's that much sweeter.
31. Cop killers come in all ages, races, sexes.
32. Expect to be at the grocery store and see people that you have arrested.
33. Expect people to really say things like "He did it" or "There he is!" (pointing to a friend), or "I didn't do it!" every time you walk into a room in uniform. A lot...
34. Trust your instincts, That funny feeling in your gut isn't from the tacos you had for lunch. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
35. Wear your vest. Yes, it is hot and uncomfortable.
36. Wear your seatbelt whenever possible, and practice unbuckling it quickly. Your blue lights don't make you immune to car accidents.
37. Carry a backup gun of the same caliber as your primary.
38. When in doubt, call for backup. There is no shame in calling for help.
39. Carry a high quality knife.
40. Carry as big a fire extinguisher as you can reasonably fit in the trunk.
41. Carry more than one flashlight. Murphy makes batteries go dead all at the same time. See #6.
42. You can't fight crime with the windows rolled up. You can't hear anything with the windows closed and A/C cranked on high.
43. Keep your cruiser neat and clean. Your car presents an image too.
44. Do what ever you have to do to go home at night, no matter how distasteful or nasty it may be.
45. Have your uniforms tailored. Shine your boots every day. Keep your uniforms clean.
46. Shave very closely right before work. Visible whiskers at the start of the shift are not acceptable.
47. Learn your agency's uniform and grooming policy and be in 100% compliance. As a matter of fact, do that for every policy in the book. If you always follow policy, you will be a star.
48. Someone is ALWAYS in control of the encounter or situation, if it is not you, your likely to get hurt.
49. Make lots of memories for the “Old Cops Home”.
50. And, enjoy every moment that you have been given the opportunity to have the privilege of being LE officer...even on the crappiest of days. Because there will be one day, sooner or later, that will come along that you won't be able to or can't do the job anymore and you will wish for even those crappy days.
Thanks to: PeterJasonMN, Pooter, DaBigBR, TheBadOne, BexarWolf, Vom Kriege, Infallible, knoxvegasdaddy, ateamer,& ChristopherH.
Yep, I agree with all of the above officer safety tactics..
Here's my input
1. You will witness backstabbing like you wouldn't believe
2. Pick your friends wisely
3. STAY OUT OF THE DRAMA. AT ALL COSTS.. It's intoxicating, "everyone is doing it", and it's all around you. For the love of all things holy, STAY THE F** OUT OF IT.
4. Don't tell anyone anything that you don't want everyone to know. I don't care how "tight" you are, they will tell at least one other person. If it's juicy, it will get back to you by the end of the shift.
My pet peeve. WRITE DOWN the address or location that dispatch has just given you, or you'll sound like a dope calling in every two minutes and asking them to repeat it.
Very nice guys. I have to say I agree with everything said. A few really stand out more then others but they are all very true!
You work for a government agency, expect to get screwed out of a vacation, promotion or something else you really want (shift rotation, new car, list goes on). It is going to happen, so it is best not to get too attached to any idea.
That list of 50 things is awesome. Like number 8, there are some good stories there.
There is no black or white, it's shades of gray.
You will be expected walk between the shades of gray until you mess up or fall out of favor with the bosses, then it's black or white.
All that other stuff is good to know , tailor your uniforms (fine if you can afford it, even with an allowance I go through too many) but it's mostly common sense and politeness. A teddy Bear!!!
What was drummed into my head was the three most important times confronting a person.
1. At first contact, if he has a gun he will pull it now or give up. Might pretend he does not have a gun hopping not to be searched or run.
2. When you first search him, If he has a gun he will pull it or give up. If he is wanted he might run.
3. When you go to cuff him, If he does not want to go he now knows you are going to take him. Be ready for a fight.
If you have a partner both of you should concentrate on the suspect at these three times!!! Lastly, when you go to take the cuffs off, be ready for a fight. I have had my nose broken by a suspect I was booking just when I took the cuffs off.
Don't rush into anything!!
Listen to your FTO. Most of the time they are really trying to help you.
Don't be taken prisoner. The ex-cons will make you their sex toy before cutting your throat. SERIOUSLY, I came on when my department was recovering from the Onion Field Incident. (Google it if you are not aware)
It never pays to surrender. Never give up your gun under any circumstances.
Don't take anything too seriously, including this advice.
War Brides are OK, if you know how to manage them. :supergrin:
This thread belongs in the intro of the FTO manual, right before the table of contents.
Always beware of the toad who gives up something quick. They give you the personal use dope without a lot of hoopla, they are probably hiding more and are just giving you the stuff you would write a ticket for and release.
Or the guy that says I got a couple of knives, and tosses them down thinking you will feel secure, when he really just did that so you would not search him for the gun he has tucked in his waistband.
There is a reason for everything they do, keep your eyes open, and your wheels turning.
As an add-on to keeping ears open and mouth shut... Don't be too quick to judge your coworkers and bosses. Some of your admin geek bosses actually did kick ass and take names before going inside. Individual guys have ups and downs in their career... the "lazy old guy" may have a ton of home stress or a medical thing going on, and will return to being a hard charger in a year or two.
From Mrs.Hoser- Always take good care of and be fair to ALL OF your immediate coworkers. 1st of all, its the right thing to do anyway, 2nd, it's in your best interest. Rather than play the kiss-ass game with one boss... save your energy for helping your partners. Where do you think the next promoted people are gonna come from
Everything you need to know is right here:
Everything you need to know is right here:
Bwahahaha! Funny, true, and sad all at the same time.
Of course I was then tube-linked to the news clip that the Chief of Renton PD actually initiated a cyberstalking investigation to try and oust the video-poster. That's just ridiculous. How about not hiring and promoting losers, then you wouldn't have to worry about what people are posting online.
1. If you see your Commercial Vehicles / HAZMAT guys running past you, follow them - quickly.
2. Always be kind and considerate to people that work in Admin or Fleet. Trust me on this one.
3. Clear your intersections!
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