More “Street Cop”

Apr 6, 2011

This is an excerpt from the chapter, “Field Training Officer.”

There was another recruit that had struggled to get through the police academy. His previous three FTO’s had all wanted to kill him. They gave him to me as his last hope. The Major told me, “Feel free to wash him out if he doesn’t improve.” I saw that Recruit Brian had potential. After riding with him for a few days, I felt that we could salvage him.

One of the things that had alienated Brian from his previous FTO’s was the fact that he wanted to argue about everything while out on a call. This is never acceptable from a recruit, especially one that has never policed before and who was riding with several seasoned and experienced police Corporals, as most of us were. By the end of our first shift together, we had an understanding. If he wanted to keep his job, he had better keep his mouth shut and do what I say. If he wanted to discuss something, we would discuss it later. And then, it had better be in a respectful tone befitting a recruit.

I realize that this might sound pretty harsh and might not fit in with a touchy feely management style. The fact of the matter is that police departments are paramilitary organizations. Structure and discipline are very important. The sooner that Recruit Brian learned this, the easier his life would be. He was already teetering on the edge of dismissal. He could not afford to alienate me like he had his other FTO’s.

Another problem area for Brian was his driving. I realize that one of the reasons that people get into law enforcement (whether they admit it or not) is the fact that they get to drive fast. Brian, however, terrified me. Some calls, emergency 911 calls for help, require a fast response. Most calls, however, only require a “routine” response. We get there when we get there, and drive the speed limit. For Brian, though, every call was an emergency call. I was constantly telling him to slow down. This was compounded by the reality that he did not know the area that we were working in. Add these to the fact that we were working third shift. So Brian was driving fast to every call, not knowing where he was going, in the dark. This had disaster written all over it.

To be continued…

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