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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.

Bad Behavior and Attitudes

Please check all your baggage at the academy's door.

February 01, 2010  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

I had to attend a meeting the other day at the local academy. It was nothing out of the ordinary except it was the first day for a new cycle of recruits. Ah, the memories this brought back of when I worked at the regional academy.

I grabbed a coffee with one of the academy cadre and did some recruit watching; some things never change. After three decades of being involved in police training, academies, and podium time, I see things with my eyes that may escape the recruits. If you are preparing to attend the academy or currently suffering through it, let me offer you some academy survival tips.

Check your attitude at the door.

I have observed the privileged students with that look of shock in their eyes. "You mean I am going have to do this?" their faces say. Answer: yes.

There is no express lane for people from a certain family. No exit ramp to graduation because you have a college degree. There are no free passes on the streets. Therefore study, work, and sweat here to avoid getting hurt out in the real world.

Even with uniforms on, you can often pick out those who have the "I don't belong with these people" look. Face it, these are your classmates and you will have to get along and work as a team to pass; I have no need for free thinking individuals in the academy mode.

I always like the students that are former military (Hooah), for they understand the basic training mindset. They understand the temperament of the staff; they are there for a mission to convert you from a raw civilian into a law enforcement officer. The staff will drive you to the goal. Train hard or go home.

Recruits that possess military experience or have been high school or college team athletes all understand the teamwork concept. They too understand that you are a faceless body with a last name and number, no special treatment. If this concept bothers you, don't let it; it is designed this way for a purpose. You have to learn to become a team player, so learn the dynamics now. One day when you are on the streets and call for assistance, you want the team coming.

Behavior Issues

So you make mistakes (you are human) and you get corrected (got your butt chewed) and now you want to pout. Take your lumps and drive on; consider it a learning experience. Some who come to the academy may have not experienced "correction" like this before; so deal with it. I don't know a single cop who would say he or she didn't get their butts handed to them at one time or another during the training process. This is also to test your mettle.

Often I have explained to recruits that we do not measure the recruit by how "bad" a disciple you are but by how you respond, and then if you drive on. In other words, how do you handle adversity and learn from it?

So if and when you get called into the office or dropped for push-ups, do it, deal with it, learn from it, and drive on. It is not to humiliate you but to correct you and prepare you. What is important now is that you not exhibit immature behavior. This is no time to be a kid; it's time to be a cop.

Train hard or go home.

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