My plan to “blog regularly” about the law enforcement academy didn’t work out so well. Between the academy itself and a full-time job, free time has become precious luxury. But I’m on vacation until 4 January, so now there’s no excuse not to post an update.
The academy is in session for five hours on two weeknights, and nine hours on Saturdays. So far, most of this time has been spent in classroom lecture. The highlights: criminal law, traffic law, report writing, rules of evidence. When we’re not in the classroom, we do things like physical training, defensive tactics, firearms, and first aid.
When I wrote my previous academy post, actual class hadn’t started yet. I was expecting it to be like boot camp. In fact, it hasn’t been anywhere close to that. We wear uniforms, stand in formations, render courtesies, and do push-ups when we screw up. But the screaming and in-your-face-ness of basic training isn’t there. And now I understand why. For one, this is police training, not military. Cops are expected to interact with the public and respect their civil rights, not rape, pillage, and burn (figuratively speaking). There’s also the practical matter of this being a nine-month part-time academy. You just can’t maintain boot camp-style stress for that long if you want people to finish the program. From what I understand, the local full-time academy cranks it up a bit closer to what the military does, but cadets in that program are only there for 17 weeks.
Our stress comes from other sources. We have to juggle jobs, home life, and other things besides the academy itself. In that way, this academy is alot more like actually working as an officer. The difficulty of the coursework itself varies. After six years of full-time university schooling, I find the book work straightforward. But the practical activities are significantly harder. In defensive tactics, for instance, we have done some work with hand-to-hand combat. That’s new stuff for me. It doesn’t help that I’m probably the smallest person in the class, so I get thrown around and injured easily. I’ve already had a broken nose, bruised ribs, and cuts on my arms. Nothing serious, but it’s annoying. Firearms also involves some new learning. Until this, I’ve had little formal training in handgun use. It turns out I was doing a few things wrong.
By far the most difficult thing about the academy is the length. I’m having a hard time sustaining my concentration for nine months, and we’re only about 40% of the way through right now. I’m already burned out, and I’m not the only one. It’s a long road ahead.
As far as career plans go, right now I’m considering the following. Assuming I finish the academy, I’ll become a part-time police officer somewhere, while pursuing full-time employment related to my university training and past experience (meteorology, physical science). I’m also applying directly to certain “dream jobs”. Some are law enforcement-related, some are not, but all make use of my degrees. If I get one of these jobs, I’ll quit the academy to take it.