Thursday, August 15, 2019

Live, at Zero Seven Forty-Five


Please welcome Recruit Boyd. Recruit Boyd comes to The Lakewood Police Department as a member of the 2019-2 Combined Regional Class, with a unique background - he is an Emmy Award winner! This achievement, aside from being an incredible personal achievement, exemplifies the high quality of individuals in this Academy.

My name is Lakewood Police Recruit Boyd. When I was going through the hiring process, I loved reading past Academy blogs to see what the academy was like. I’m now honored to share a glimpse of what I’m getting to experience.
 
De-escalation role play

My first real introduction to law enforcement was when I worked as a TV news producer for NBC in Colorado Springs and CBS in Denver. I grew a deep respect for police while reporting on the dangers and scrutiny officers face on a daily basis. I often wondered: What’s their training like? How do they deal with people always having a cell phone out, ready to record?

Despite only being a few weeks into the academy, I’ve learned the key to dealing with tough situations is good communication while treating everyone with dignity. It’s a simple concept, but it goes a long way. Not only is the staff teaching us how to serve the community with the utmost respect, they’re demonstrating it in the way they treat us. That’s not to say that we’re exempt from “team building exercises”… i.e. corrective punishment. I’ll have more on that a little later.

So far, driving fast and shooting guns is on hold. The instruction consists of eight hours of lecture via PowerPoint, five days a week. Just think of drinking from a fire hydrant and you’ll understand. There is a lot of information to digest and remember, especially for our weekly tests each Monday. Classes have ranged from criminal code, to anti-biased policing, to the criminal justice system. If a recruit scores less than 80 percent on four tests, they will be dropped from the academy. Lots of late-night studying has us chugging coffee during our classroom breaks!

You’d think that PT would be extremely stressful, but most would agree that it’s been a nice break from the classroom. Only one person has puked so far during a workout, so I’ll count that as a success! The PT program is Crossfit-based and there are a lot of partner workouts. It’s designed not just to improve our fitness, but also to help us rely on our teammates, just like we’ll be doing on the street as uniformed police agents.


One of the best parts of the academy is becoming a family. Even though there are 42 individuals, we’re banding together to become one and making sure no one fails. Everyone is sharing notes on Google Drive. Several study groups meet on the weekends to make sure everyone passes. One recruit even held a “boot shine workshop” to avoid “team building exercises.” However, we’re not always successful at that.

This is Staff’s idea of “team building:” Each morning during formation, the staff quiz us on classroom material. On one particular morning, the questions happened to be on geography. One of my fellow recruits forgot a street name, so the instructors had us run to the end of the street to see if the light pole was still there. After several jogs to that area, I can confidently say that the light pole is indeed still there. It’s always funny to see drivers give us weird looks when we run in our suits.

No matter what is being thrown at us, all of us are determined to make it through the academy so we can serve our communities with dignity. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this journey holds
!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Aloha, Lakewood


Please welcome Lakewood Police recruit Berg. He left one beautiful state to make a home in another.

My name is Recruit Berg, and I am one of the many recent transplants to the Denver area. I was born near Seattle, Washington and lived there most my life. I wanted to get into law enforcement since high school, but I got married fairly young. My wife and I moved around a bit early on in our marriage. We moved to Hawaii to finish our degrees, and moving is not especially conducive to a career in law enforcement. So I waited...


I got my degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English and taught high school for a couple of years on Oahu. It was actually the same one Bruno Mars went to, so some of my colleagues had stories of him sleeping in class after performing at local venues the night before. I also spent a lot of my time working at a restaurant on the beachfront in Waikiki. I was able to serve people and cultures from all over the world. I still instinctively greet people with, “Aloha, how are we doing today?” from time to time, which receives odd looks from people here in Colorado… For some reason.

My wife and I decided we wanted to start a family, and she wanted to start a graduate program not offered in Hawaii. We found programs that matched my wife’s career goals in the beautiful state of Colorado. Since we knew we’d finally be settling down, I applied to a number of police departments. It was time for me to pursue a career in law enforcement.


I began to fully invest my time and energy in applying to departments across the ocean, in a place I’d never been. This was my first challenge. Other than looking at a map to know where someplace was, I was completely unaware of what each city was like and what each department had to offer.


As an out of state candidate, I was left with information that could be found on each city and department’s website. I made phone call after phone call, clarifying information and ensuring I understood the hiring process that proved unique to each department. For example, most departments require passing a written test before moving forward in their process. Others skip the written test entirely and start off with an oral board. If you’ve never sat for an oral board, I don’t have any consoling remarks. It is intimidating, getting grilled with questions from a panel of 3-5 law enforcement officials. No matter the answer you give, you walk away thinking of how you could have answered better.



The time difference (4 hours) didn’t help. I continued to do my best and communicate efficiently when I had to get something scheduled. Every candidate has to deal with requesting time off work to complete each step in the hiring process. Out of state candidates also have to bear travel costs with no assurance of success. In fact, I expected to be rejected by several departments.


Which is exactly what happened to me. My first trip to Colorado was a redeye flight where I changed into my suit (suits are expected at most parts of the hiring process) in the airplane bathroom minutes before landing. I didn’t want to get it wrinkled on the plane, so I carried it on with me. I felt like Superman, changing in a phone booth, as I stepped out excited and ready for the seemingly unending tests I was about to take.


Except when I stepped off that flight (sleeping fitfully), I arrived at my first department within an hour only to find I hadn’t quite scored high enough to continue. Now you tell me.


Quick rejection isn’t any easier to swallow. I had an oral board the following morning with a different department, an hour and a half drive from where I was staying. I passed their process and was placed on an eligibility list. A quick hop in my car, an hour back to take another written test that I “passed”, but didn’t score high enough to move forward (uhhh-gehn). The rest of the weekend was two more tests and a polygraph. I wouldn’t find out my results for those until I was back home.


That was one trip. Four departments, four written tests, an oral board, and a polygraph squeezed across four days. I was responsible for scheduling all of these appointments and ensuring there were no time conflicts. And still, nothing is guaranteed, but I pushed through it.


Lakewood consolidated out of state hiring into one weekend. Exhausting doesn’t begin to describe what it was like, but no other department did this. Typically, an out of state candidate would be expected to make 3-4 trips out for the hiring process. Lakewood made each advancing step contingent on clearing the previous hurdle. I met some who didn’t, so their trips were cut short. The pressure was intense, but it was refreshing to receive results immediately and do everything in one trip.


And so I completed four tests over three days. I anxiously awaited my results after each stage, attempting to deal with the butterflies in my stomach to see if I would be moved onto the next stage. Obviously, I successfully passed each part, or I wouldn’t be here writing this!

Through several rejections, I persevered and was offered a position with the Lakewood Police Department. Although it was a grueling process, I’m with the department I truly want to be with. Not only that, but the friendships and experiences I’ve been piling on over the last 16 weeks of academy have made it all worth it in the end.



Monday, April 1, 2019

One Team




 My name is Recruit Cook with the Lakewood Police Department. I was born in West Texas and lived there for 10 years before moving to the peaceful city of Lincoln, Nebraska. After completing high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I struggled with fitting in at times. I really had no interests or hobbies to guide me with the next chapter of my journey.

Eventually, I settled on joining the Army. This decision was extremely tough to make. My mother, like all good mothers, was very reluctant about wanting me to join. I was also on the fence about joining. I didn’t know if I really felt a “calling” or if I had just played to many video games. During my service, I was fortunate enough to be stationed in the beautiful state of Hawaii for 3 years. I was an infantryman and got out  at the rank of Sergeant. My service provided me with confidence and finally some direction that I desperately needed. During that time, I learned the traits of responsibility, integrity, leadership, looking at the details and ultimately how to be a team player. Little did I know, the lessons I learned then I would apply every single day of my life.

The decision to join the Lakewood Police Department was actually one of the easier I have had to make. I knew a few of the agents who already worked for the department, and they always had amazing things to say about LPD and the city itself. They spoke very highly of the culture that surrounded the department. I knew that was something I wanted to be part of.

I really wasn’t sure what to think when Day One of the academy finally rolled around. I was anxious and excited at the same time. I had worked so hard throughout the hiring process, only to realize that the real work was about to begin. I had so many questions that it was hard to fall asleep at night because I wanted the answers immediately. Being a police officer is all about team work and earning the trust of your peers and your community. While I wanted to have this cemented on the first day, I knew that it was going to be process .

Fast forward now to Week 8 of the police academy. Every one of my peers has their own strengths and challenges, but the one constant were the traits I stated earlier. Our academy instructors have mentioned to the class that all the students have “type A” personalities, which couldn’t be truer. All the recruits are extremely determined to be the best at this job. They’re confident, intelligent and possess leadership qualities...even those who may not realize it yet.
We recently started firearms training. This is the most nerve racking skill that we learn. The vastness of detail that goes into each and every session can almost be mind-numbing. After the first 2 sessions, the class quickly knew who the “sharpshooters” were and who among us needed to tighten up their shot groups. As someone who was a horrific shot at one point in my life, I know exactly how frustrating it can be to not get the shooting results you want. My first time qualifying with a rifle in the army, I was the one person out of the 120 soldiers to not qualify. I felt like an absolute failure and overall embarrassed to be around the people I was working with.
I’ve been so impressed with the comradery and support that everyone here gives to each other. Everyone picks each other up and encourages them after a difficult session at the shooting range. I have no doubt that as the academy moves along, everyone will find their stride with shooting and become confident in their skills.
The next thing that the class has started is arrest control. This has been my favorite portion of the curriculum. Arrest Control is all the hand-to-hand fighting that we potentially will have to go through. It also includes all of the searching and handcuffing procedures that we might use every single day of our careers. Just like firearms, there is so much detail that goes into each and every session. The instructors, however, made me a little nervous for this portion of the academy.
Our Arrest Control cadre compared their skill to dancing. We need to be fluid while performing the techniques being taught. If you asked any of the girls I went to dances with in high school, they would tell you that I would be an absolute failure with this. I wasn’t filled with an abundance of hope.
In between firearms and arrest control, we still have our weekly test. While the classroom portion has slowed down, our schedules certainly haven't. Time management has been a skill that I wish could be perfected. Just when I think I have time to sit down and catch my breath, an assignment or a test sneaks up.
 Finding time to do things for myself can be difficult during this stretch of the academy. We all know that it will be worth it in the end. All of us truly want to be here. It’s exciting to watch everyone grow and get better every day. It’s even more exciting to be a part of a group passionately chasing down their dreams of taking our places among law enforcement professionals.
Overall, the academy has been a blast! The teamwork continues to build day in and day out. The academy can be an absolute grind at times, so it’s been essential to lean on each other when we’re having a difficult day. The academy can also bring out some extremely long days, but it’s always fun to have those days that serve as a “gut check.”
In the military, we had a saying when the days were long with no end in sight. We would say “embrace the suck.” This means to embrace the hardships of the journey because, at the end of the day, it was only going to make you better and overall more efficient. At the academy our class motto is “One team, one fight.” We all have taken this to heart - when one person is struggling, we all struggle right along with them until the problem is fixed. I’ve really enjoyed the experience so far and cannot wait to see what the rest of the journey has to offer.




Wednesday, March 6, 2019

From Law Office to Law Enforcement


My name is Recruit Martinez with the Lakewood Police Department. I was born and raised in sunny Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Colorado a couple of weeks prior to the start of the 2019-1 Regional Police Academy. Since I was a child, I told my friends and family that they could expect me to begin my career as a law enforcement officer as soon as I became of age to apply. Not that they doubted me, but the odds of getting hired as an officer at 21 years old with limited experience simply isn’t the most practical. In addition to my career goal, I would routinely joke about wanting to move to Colorado; somewhere not so far away from home, where seasons actually existed (even if that meant freezing on a daily basis). Being an adventurous, go-getter type of person I make a conscious effort to make my dreams a reality, but never did I consider that two of my biggest aspirations would come to fruition at once.

 Early in 2018, I had a spur of the moment weekend trip to Colorado to hike the Rocky Mountains and decided shortly thereafter to graduate a semester early with my Bachelor’s in Justice Studies from Northern Arizona University. The two unrelated decisions eventually led me to the Lakewood Police Department. I applied right after my “20 and a half birthday;” everything fell into place from there.

For the past couple of years, I maintained a full-time job at a law firm and was also a full-time student. I got an inside look on the life of an attorney and it only reaffirmed my drive to get out of my sedentary job and serve and protect the community first-hand. I have always had a passion for helping others, seeing the good in the bad, and being a voice to those who are not strong enough to defend their own. I value Lakewood’s mission to serve the community with intelligence, integrity, and initiative and am honored to have been selected as a part of the team.

 I thought that knowing no one would pose difficulties for me. I quickly realized to my delight that I was surrounded by a group of people who were just like me. We all share similar passions, senses of humor and hobbies. Most importantly, we share the innate, effortless desire to help others. Within the first few days I was already spending time outside of work with my new fellow recruits and have since made so many friends. The academy is made up of several other departments aside from Lakewood, but our respective agencies are irrelevant as a whole. We are all here for the same purpose. “One team, one fight,” our chosen motto, is aligned with the spirit and mentality of our group.

 The first weeks of the academy are all classroom based: 8 hours of lecture, 5 days a week. Some (well...maybe more than just some) have called it “Death by PowerPoint.” So many of our instructors bring their humor and experience into the classroom, which makes each day’s lesson more refreshing. After all, these days in the classroom serve as the foundation for our entire career. Also, we’ve made a weekly award for “Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time” given the amount of comical blurts fellow recruits make during class; it makes each day entertaining.

 I think I speak for everyone when I say our brains are fried at the end of each week. You can see the drooping eyelids and avid coffee drinkers doubling their dosage by mid-morning on Fridays. At first, I wasn’t sure how it was possible to be so mentally exhausted from simply sitting all day. After realizing that we’re being “fed from a fire hose” with seemingly infinite heaps of information categorized as “important” and “more important” it starts to make sense. I find that when I finally get home and can slump over on the couch, it just ends up giving me time to reflect on the fact that every minute I spend relaxing is actually just a minute that I’m taking away from studying what could be the end-all-be-all test that takes place each Monday. If you score less than an 80% on four tests throughout the course of the academy, you’re out. No pressure, right?


 Just like we learned the “Lesser of evils” defense in Colorado’s criminal code, the same translates into daily life. Shine my boots now, or wash and iron my pants? Study geography, or study for the test? Make lunch for tomorrow or go to the gym so I can avoid making a fool of myself in PT? Discipline at its finest, and invaluable lessons all of us must adhere to in order to be exceptional in this profession. The art of weighing options goes on, only to get more complicated as skills such as firearms training approach. To add to the stress, I’ve seemingly fallen into the position of class scribe and weekly study guide writer. Skills that I previously deemed as irrelevant and useless at the law firm have been actually been paramount in studying. One of my fellow recruits jokingly suggested I stop sharing my weekly notes just to see the reactions of distress and dismay from the others.

Several groups of us get together each weekend to study. We challenge each other’s understanding of the weekly material by creating scenarios and whipping out our law bibles to combat one another with different aspects of the criminal statutes­­. Some recruits are blessed with photographic memories, but me? I work best with mnemonics, raps, things said with an accent, answers disguised in a joke or funny scenario- I think you get the point, pretty much anything that will get it to ‘stick’. I often find myself trying to hold back laughter during the tests when a question comes up that leaves me visualizing a scenario my study group made up to help remember elements of a crime.

In our group, we make light of the material and always come out feeling more prepared- that is until the stress builds up Monday morning where we all question whether we are actually prepared. During formation on test days to ease our anxiety, one of the academy staff members has made a habit of asking the class which rapper sang certain rap lyrics. He enjoys watching us recruits sweat as he walks down the rows calling individuals to attention. He receives a lot of “I don’t know sir” responses. I’m waiting for the day when we receive a ‘team building’ (group discipline) exercise for not knowing a rapper, such as running down the street to check if the light pole is still there.

 All in all, I am grateful and so excited to be where I am. Trading the sun and my desk for the snow and the law was the greatest decision I’ve made. Nearly 5 weeks down and 15 to go, my fellow recruits haven’t let the positive energy die down. I mean it when I say I couldn’t have wished for a better team; we keep each other accountable, preparing one another for the real-life job that is not so far around the corner. It is evident that we all take the task at hand seriously and want to excel. We are just recruits now, but through the forthcoming weeks we will develop the skills and mindset needed to be certified peace officers, brothers and sisters in blue.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

In This Together


Please welcome Recruit DeRosa. Every recruit comes face to face with adversity during the Academy experience. Sometimes it is critical training meant to preserve life. More often, it is the simple things that can be most stressful.
My name is Recruit DeRosa with the Lakewood Police Department. I am honored to share my experiences after two weeks in the 2018-2 Combined Regional Academy.

I lived almost my whole life in Castle Rock, Colorado and attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. I graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and minored in sociology. After graduation, I spent a year applying for law enforcement positions all across Colorado. I applied to a total of nine law enforcement agencies before I was fortunate enough to land a recruit position with Lakewood Police Department. My journey in the academy began on Monday, July 16th.

I’ve been impressed at how fast my classmates and I have begun to bond, and become closer every day. Although we met each other only a few weeks ago, everyone treats each other like we have been friends for years. From cracking inside jokes when the instructors leave the room to supporting one another during PT, we are already turning into a family. Nobody is ever alone in this experience. We practice formation together, we work out together, we eat together, and we learn together. 

There have been numerous opportunities to learn lessons so far. One of those sticks out the most to me. After orientation we were expected to break in our new boots and begin to learn how to shine them. I was under the impression that shinning boots was simple, a five minute task. I mean, how hard can it be? Just “wax on, wax off.” Right?


After an hour of rubbing a boot I quickly realized even the simplest tasks are going to take some work. I was beyond stressed that I couldn’t get a shine on my boots, and thought I was going to be the only idiot that couldn’t figure it out. The next day at the academy, I learned I was not alone. The majority of us were struggling and it seemed everyone had different theories on how to get a good shine going.

I realized I am not alone in this academy. I have many resources around me and people who will struggle along with me. I asked people who knew what they were doing, and went home that night encouraged. The next week during formation I received a complement from one of the Sergeants about the shine on my boots. After a couple of weeks I have learned during times of frustration I am not alone. I can carry this lesson throughout my career as an Agent with Lakewood Police Department.


Monday, July 23, 2018

No Greater Honor


Please welcome Recruit Joshua. He is a member of the Combined Regional Academy recruit class 2018-2, which started just one week ago.

My name is Lakewood Police Department Recruit Joshua Guerra. I am incredibly happy to share my perspective of our first week in the 2018-2 Combined Regional Academy.

 

I was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado and attended Saint Edward’s University in Austin, Texas where I lived for six years. Following my graduation in May 2017, I was fortunate to work for the Travis County Constable’s Office in Austin as a Warrant Specialist. The members of law enforcement in that office proved to be invaluable mentors and resources as I prepared to return home and begin a career of my own.

 

My Academy classmates and I have chosen what can delicately be described as a tumultuous time in our nation to join law enforcement.  Although it would be easy for our instructors to ignore the harsh realities of the profession, they have certainly not. It’s refreshing. In almost any other career path, employers will actively conceal negative aspects of the job, to attract and retain their still na├»ve employees. Police work is not easy, it is not safe, the hours are not ideal, the job is equally physically and mentally taxing. One resounding truth is reinforced by every veteran who speaks to our class; police work can be the most rewarding career we ever have.

 

By far the most surprising part of my first week has been the other members of the academy. We have, as an entire group, embraced the challenge of the academy. Everyone arrived early the first day and former military members stepped up to lead morning formation. I was staggered during introductions to find our class is littered with law degrees, certified EMT’s, combat veterans, military officers, and almost all were bachelor degree recipients.

My fellow classmates have shown initiative and drive even in the first few days. Put simply, these are the types of people I had hoped to share the streets with. People push each other in our physical workouts, and bring each other up when they need motivation. I have a strong feeing this academy will push me to be a better officer due in part to my classmates.

 

I have no misconceived fantasy that the academy will be smooth sailing the entire way. Warnings from previous graduates and current instructors has prepared the entire group for an absolute grind. Before we participate in firearms, arrest control tactics, and driving courses we must build an educational foundation from which to jump. The next six weeks we will primarily be in a classroom taking notes by day and studying by night, only to start over again the following morning. There is no doubt this first portion of the academy will test our resolve and dedication to our chosen profession. We will rely on one another to earn the right to be called Police Officers, Deputy Sheriffs and Agents.

 

The class motto we have chosen is “No Greater Honor” I could not think of a more appropriate motivation for these 20 weeks with my future brothers and sisters in Blue.



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.