Thursday, August 4, 2016

Good Advice

Please help me welcome Recruit Ryan to the Lakewood Police Department. In his blog he discusses being the son of a police officer, to whom Ryan turned for advice during these turbulent times.
My name is Ryan. I'm currently a recruit for the Lakewood Police Department.  I'm privileged to share with you a few brief thoughts about the Combined Regional Academy. 

I attended both Regis University and the University of Colorado.  I previously worked for the State government in Youth Corrections and in the city of Lakewood in Community Corrections.  I'm a Colorado native (did you already guess that?), so I was very excited to start this new career.  

During my first week, some of the stark realities of my chosen profession were broadcast all over the world. The shootings in Baton Rouge and Dallas were intensely covered by the media.  Both incidents were a grim reminder of the ultimate sacrifice every law enforcement officer must be willing to make.  I had considered these aspects of the job previously, but here it was all over the news and social media.  My mother, and my girlfriend both mentioned their worries to me, which I appreciated.  It was hard not to be a little bit uncertain, with what felt like mounting tension against law enforcement and the natural jitters that come with starting a new job.  Perhaps sensing this, my father called me to offer some re-assuring words. 

My dad  told me that when he started his career in law enforcement, the country was experiencing similar tension in the form of the LA Riots.  He was certain any unease I had would pass and reminded me there would be extremely tough days on the job as well.  He told me I was joining a team and brotherhood much bigger than myself.   Finally, I should always do my best professionally and personally to represent the badge, as it was a reflection on all those who share it. Our conversation reinforced all the reasons I had wanted to be in law enforcement and despite recent events and increased media attention, this had not changed in the slightest.  The risks associated with the profession were also the same as they had ever been. 

This was unlike a typical father/son conversation from my perspective for one particular reason; my father is a Denver Police Department Sergeant.  He has been in law enforcement my entire life, with Denver since 1991.  When I was younger his VICE Team stories were always of great interest to me, but this was different.  I listened to his words intently, not only as a son, but as a green recruit looking for tips on how to navigate the profession.

I've never been a part of a professional sports team, but in many ways the Academy is what I imagine a Broncos training or offseason camp might be like.  Playbook memorization is replaced with learning articles of the criminal code and how to apply them.  Practicing skills, such as how to question a suspect or witness, take the place of position drills like route running or blocking.  Strength and conditioning programs are essential to both professions and as such there are CrossFit workouts scheduled just about every week. 

It's been said "you play the way you practice."  One of the hallmarks of Peyton Manning's Hall of Fame career was preparation.  The Academy challenges each recruit to work on their weaknesses outside of the academy.  Whether it is becoming stronger and faster, or applying elements of the Criminal Code, there is always another skill to sharpen or subject to learn.  This preparation time is the hallmark of a professional in any discipline.

As great as one individual may be, they can accomplish far more through the strength of their team, as Bronco Country can attest.  This message is reinforced every day when we sit down in the classroom.  All of our agencies' mission statements, badges, and patches adorn the wall.  I find the most striking feature of the room to be a thin blue line that runs along the entire perimeter of the room.  Occasionally during the day, I look at the plaque explaining the symbolism of this line and reflect on it.  The line represents our team colors and the camaraderie we're building at the academy.

I haven't yet earned the right to consider myself a part of the thin blue line, it is something that I and every other recruit are working towards together over the 22 weeks we spend here.  I look forward to updating you on our progress later on in the academy.