Monday, November 2, 2015


When I started working at the PD, our training program was divided into two halves, each about 8 weeks long. For each half you were assigned a different FTO (field training officer), and after each half you were evaluated by another FTO to make sure you were learning what you needed to know.

My first FTO was a fun guy. We got along great, and I had a blast having him show me around town, introducing me to lots of business owners, and just shooting the breeze with them. We took our calls, did our reports, and I thought all was well.

Then, after about 8 weeks, I went into my first evaluation. I didn't know jack squat. Couldn't do a decent investigation, couldn't do a proper traffic stop, didn't know my way around the city efficiently, nothing. My evaluating FTO was tactful, but at the end of the exam week he made it clear I was going to have to start over with a new FTO. Needless to say, I was devastated. Eight weeks down the drain, and a black mark on my record before I ever got my feet wet.

You see, real police work is a lot of just that - work. You're expected to do many different things: take calls (which by itself covers more than you can imagine), write reports, do follow-up on those reports later, run traffic and write tickets, check on schools on your beat, look out for suspicious persons, run license plates in places crooks are known to hang out and take necessary action when you find something, cruise residential neighborhoods and make nice with people, keep your assigned squad car squared away, try to locate wanted persons living on your beat, back up other officers on calls and traffic stops, assist the fire department and other agencies when they need it, prepare for and attend traffic and criminal court trials, attend regular mandatory training...the list seems endless.

Getting to know business owners on your beat and checking in with them periodically is also part of that list. Hanging out in the business and bullshitting for hours on end is not. I suspected as much at the time, but I was brand new and didn't really know any better. I simply followed my FTO's lead and kept my mouth shut.

I went on to do pretty well. I repeated the first half of training (under a different FTO), passed with flying colors, and finished training without incident. I even became an FTO years later. And my experience made me a better one. I made sure that what happened to me never happened to any of my trainees. They all made it though training without a hitch, and still serve on the PD today.

1 comment:

lbparker said...

Hopefully your first FTO got some retraining himself. Or was no longer allowed to train others.