Friday, September 30, 2016

Icing on the Mats

Please welcome Recruit Blake. His class is now halfway through our Academy, a point where the intensity level has reached a peak.

Hi, my name is recruit Blake. I’m honored to have the opportunity to give you a glimpse into the internal workings of the 2016-2 combined regional academy.


Some readers might wonder what it’s like to be in the law enforcement field when there is so much controversy surrounding how we do our jobs. Maybe you’re wondering what we think, when we see high profile celebrities and athletes mocking us and making disrespectful comments directed at peace officers.


First, people have freedom of speech. This is a freedom that law enforcement is sworn to protect, uphold and honor. Second, we let our actions speak louder than their words by continuing to perform our jobs in a professional manner. We protect the rights of individuals to speak out in a negative manner towards peace officers. We provide them with the same quality service that we provide to individuals who express support for law enforcement. A few poor examples of police officers are not representative of law enforcement as a whole. In the Academy, we consistently talk about how we can positively impact our communities while continuing to enforce and uphold the laws.


I am originally from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I attended Shippensburg University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2014. I also had the privilege of competing on the track and field team as a javelin thrower. Therefore, I’m proficient at chucking spears. Before moving to Colorado to join the Lakewood Police Department, I worked as a counselor for a company that was contracted by law enforcement and child protective services. I assisted officers with various tasks. Throughout the process, I realized I would rather be on the front lines enforcing the law and protecting the public. I am extremely grateful to be here and am honored to have this opportunity to serve the city and people of Lakewood.


Why did I choose the Lakewood Police department, as it is 1,590 miles from “home?” Last year I drove through the Denver metro area while on a cross country trip with my brother and immediately had a desire to move here. I googled police departments that were hiring in the Denver metro area and it so happened that Lakewood was. After doing some extensive reading about the city and the police department, I decided to apply. Following a visit to the city for a week I knew this was definitely where I wanted to work. I have nothing but respect for the Lakewood Police Department, as they were extremely professional throughout the hiring process.


Let’s talk academy life. We are currently half-way through the academy! At this point, we are in the middle of Skills, which consists primarily of firearms training and arrest control techniques. We spend 8 hours at the range each week and 8 hours on the wrestling mats learning the arrest control curriculum. I think this is Agent Beers favorite time of the academy, as he has the opportunity to demonstrate on us how the arrest control skills are applied. I might add, most of the movements inflict various levels of discomfort, appropriate for deescalating situations, encouraging people resisting arrest that continuing to fight would be fruitless.  


Speaking of discomfort, all of us had a “shocking experience” last week when we were afforded the opportunity to be tazed. In order to be certified to carry the Taser, the academy requires that we experience a 5 second “ride” on the Taser or, as Metallica might say, we got to “ride the lightning.” We take a Taser hit so that we, as peace officers, know the amount of incapacitation we are inflicting on individuals when we utilize the Taser. 


Although we are primarily focusing on building and honing skills, the other aspects of the academy are still in full swing. We continue to take exams every Monday and are currently being tested on Article 9 of the Criminal Code, which consists of public peace and order, cruelty to animals, and offenses involving communications. In addition to being tested every Monday, we must maintain a clean and pressed uniform. Most of our evenings are spent cleaning our firearms, shining boots, pressing uniform pants, studying, icing shoulders, taking the maximum daily dose of Ibuprofen, and occasionally eating dinner. In addition to our 8 hours of arrest control classes each week, we continue to participate in the high intensity cross-fit workouts. Needless to say, ice and Ibuprofen have become some of our closest companions.


In a sentence; I’m pumped to serve.

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.