Your entry to the police academy means
you have successfully completed all of the
pre-employment hurdles.  Depending
upon the scheduling of an academy class,
you could begin the academy prior to the
completion of your background
investigation.  However, this is an
exception to the rule.

Once you’re accepted to the academy,
your police department has every
expectation that you will complete the
training successfully.  That conclusion
has been reached by evaluating
interviews, testing, and investigation.  
Therefore, you should not be
apprehensive about your ability to
successfully complete academy training.

There could be one bump in the road
when it comes to firearms training.  More
than a few police recruits enter the
academy with no prior experience in
handling firearms.  Again, if you’re one of
these recruits, don’t be apprehensive.  
Your firearms instructors will provide any
additional help needed to bring your
firearm’s proficiency to an acceptable level.
Your entry into the police academy is a
milestone in your pursuit of a police
career.  In fact, in some instances, you’re
already a police officer vested with full
authority under the law.  You gained that
status the day you took your oath of
office.  However, don’t take that status
literally; you should reasonably avoid any
situation which would require you to take
any kind of enforcement action during
your academy training outside the
immediate supervision of an experienced
police officer.  I mention this because you
could find yourself witnessing a
circumstance where police intervention
may be required.  Short of an imminent
life threatening situation, you should do
what any concerned citizen should do…
call 9-l-l.

When I and my classmates entered the
Baltimore Police Academy, we were issued
the standard police uniform with two
exceptions:  the trousers were khaki
instead of the standard blue uniform
trousers.   Since it would be seven weeks
before we would receive firearms training,
the khaki trousers readily identified
unarmed police recruits to other police
officers as well as the public.  After seven
weeks and our completion of firearms
training, we were issued our police
revolvers along with blue trousers.  Even
though we now looked like police officers,
we still had four months of training ahead
of us.  The salient point here is that you
should keep a low public profile during
your academy training.  Outside of
training, you should not wear the uniform
with the possible exception of commuting
to and from the academy.
Keep this in mind.  Even after six months
of intensive police academy training, you’ll
only be at the very beginning of a career
long learning experience.  You don’t want
to become involved in any circumstances
that could complicate your academy

To say that your decision to insert
yourself into an incident could complicate
your academy training is an
understatement when you consider your
environment compared to mine when I
was a police recruit.  If I had taken action
that turned out to be wrong,
unnecessary, embarrassing – use any
adjective you like –, there weren’t any
number of digital devices recording and
exposing my inexperience and lack of
knowledge to ridicule from thousands if
not millions of people.
The national average for police academy
training is 21 weeks.  Some will be shorter
in duration with others as much as 27
weeks.  Figure on spending 6 months in
classroom and practical training

Generally, you’ll commute daily for
training.  The exception is state police
academies which conduct their training on
a more military style model.  For example,
if you’re attending the Massachusetts
State Police Academy, you’ll reside on site
in a dormitory and begin your day with a
morning run at 5:30 am.  Your classroom
instruction will last until 8:00 pm.  You will
get personal time from 8 pm until lights
out a 9:30 pm.  This will be your schedule
Monday thru Friday.

More police academies are providing
college credits for your classroom
instruction.  If you complete the Maryland
State Police Academy, you’ll have 45
college credits toward a degree.  That’s a
big deal when you consider the cost of a
four year degree.
Classroom; Firearms, and Field

There’s a significant difference between a
university environment and a training
environment.  The police academy is a
training environment designed to provide
you with as much training as possible
crammed into a relatively short period of
time.  If you enter the academy with a
preconceived notion of police work that
runs counter to the training,
you’ll only be doing a disservice to
yourself.  Keep an open mind and
concentrate on retaining as much of the
training as possible.

Classroom Training

There is no possible way for training alone
to prepare you completely for all the
variations of circumstances you’ll
encounter as a police officer.  However,
training will provide the basis for you to
analyze and adapt to ever changing
situations and circumstances.  For
example, you’ll learn how to establish
probable cause upon which you can make
an arrest.  Then there’s reasonable
suspicion which is a standard less than
probable cause which can, through
succeeding events or investigation, rise to
probable cause.

You’ll receive instruction about the
administrative functions of the police
department to which you must adhere.  
Most police recruits have no idea how
much writing is awaiting them.  Whether
it’s on a computer screen or paper, you’ll
be writing everyday of your police career.

Firearms Training

Most police departments issue magazine
fed semi-automatic pistols of 9mm or .40
caliber with a capacity of 15 to 17 rounds
of ammunition.  In the early 1990’s these
weapons began replacing the standard
police issued .38 caliber six shot revolver
as police began encountering more and
more suspects armed with high capacity
semi-automatic weapons.

You’ll find that police department firearms
instructors are a particularly picky bunch.  
They’ll expect you to pay attention and
follow instructions to the letter.  They’ve
established a training regime that leaves
no room for debate.  When it comes to
firearms training, it’s about safety first
and foremost.

Field Training

A lot of police departments now
incorporate the Field Training Officer (FTO)
into your academy training on a more
sophisticated level than in the past.  
Depending upon your police department’s
FTO program, the FTO can have a
significant influence over your successful
completion of the police academy.

While the FTO is expected to evaluate
your performance objectively, any one on
one relationship can develop subjective
measures.  Even if you feel you’ve drawn
the FTO from Hell, it will be your
responsibility to develop and maintain a
professional working relationship during
your time together.  Remember, you’ll be
on your own soon enough.    

Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
"Keep this in mind.  Even after six
months of intensive police academy
training, you’ll only be at the very
beginning of a career long learning
experience.  You don’t want to
become involved in any
circumstances that could complicate
your academy training."
~ Barry M. Baker
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
Search the WEB