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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
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Get Your Life in Order

De-stress your academy experience by making it your top priority.

June 26, 2007  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Everyone has seen movies where the drill sergeant storms into the barracks and tells the recruits how it's going to be. Some of us lived this. For me, it was at Ft. Dix, N.J. Well, what do you need to do to get through the police academy and the FTO period? Simple; what I was told and what I tell every recruit: Get your life in order!

The police academy is the most critical step in launching your new career. Flunk out and you will be heading to the unemployment office. You must pass these rites of passage to obtain your certification. Your complete and undivided attention is required here. So how do you stay focused? Here are a few time-tested recommendations.

Family Meeting

First, sit down with your nuclear and extended family. Advise them that you will have to apply yourself for these next few months. No vacations, no time for frivolities, and nights and weekends may be reserved for study. It is that important!

Should you have a significant other or spouse, tell him or her up front of the expected demands. Just be sure to make it up to your special someone after graduation. You can't forget the significant others; if you do, one day the keys won't fit. Yes, I have been through this before myself.

Time Management

Practice time management and maximize your study time. The hours you'll be attending the academy and training are set and out of your control. Give yourself plenty of time to get there in the morning. According to my sainted Irish mother, the best way to be late is to start late.

Once you return to your abode in the afternoon, have some set times for study. Do not think you will put it off until the next night or the weekend. This line of thinking is the road to academic disaster. Review and tidy up your notes, make flash cards, and read for the next day's presentations if you have a reading list.

Health Care

Take good care of your health. You are going through some physical and mental stress. Practice proper nutrition, get your rest, and take a multi-vitamin. If you can avoid getting sick during the academy, that's great. One day out can put you several days behind.

Eyes on the Prize

Try to avoid getting distracted with other things in life. You can miss watching a race, ballgame, or whatever once, especially if it's the night before a test. Being a cop is a grown-up vocation and adult thinking (preparation) is required.   

Most departments do not allow extra jobs or secondary employment during the first year. Try to avoid any outside distractions. If you are single, you can stay single a little longer. Yes, I sound like a drill sergeant here. But, having managed police academy classes and seeing several young men and women get washed out by self-inflicted failures, learn from their mistakes. Several of them would have made fine officers, but their lack of commitment showed who had the moxie.

Get your life in order. It is a great profession that awaits you.

Tags: Off-Duty Life


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

fjp123 @ 7/2/2007 7:15 PM

Very sage advise.

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