More and more, recruits are taking on the challenges of being a new officer as well as a new resident. Being the FNG (fabulous new guy) and knowing nothing about the area can be challenging, exciting, and downright stressful. External supports are necessary elements for survival. Let's cover a few.
An FTO helps a recruit adjust to the new department. As the FTO, you must think beyond just the 8-hour shift. I've written about the 8x24 theory of field training. We all know that the off-duty hours can and have tripped up careers. If the recruit is functioning well on duty, this is a good thing. Remember, it's not the entire job. You need to get her back the next day ready to train all over again. This may require some life assistance and coaching about life and a new environment.
It sounds simple enough, but let's review some background. Many years ago as a FTO, I had a new recruit who was new to the city. He had gotten the job and moved in. He was single and found an apartment in a respectable area of town. This was one major hurdle cleared. Questions about where to shop, eat or catch a movie can be quickly answered, but where to live can be a hassle.
Luckily, there were no residency requirements and his new digs were suitable for a bachelor. He was just out of the U.S. Army and had a handle on organizational skills. His bank was in another state with no branches here, so he had to go get an account set up.
I have found that moving creates life stages that segue into the next challenging stage. You begin the tourist stage where everything is exciting and new. This stage soon gives way to the mundane, and life settles down. You nest, and then enter the new-resident stage.
In this stage, you've got your needs handled. You've checked off banking, shopping, entertainment, recreation, and so forth. Life is good until the nuances of life come about. Where do I get the car repaired? Which bars should I avoid? Which doctor, dentist, or other professionals should I patronize?
This is still-new-resident orientation at an advanced level. Most of these questions come about after the FTO program. Recruits are still new, on probation, and your phone rings in the afternoon.
The rigors of the FTO program and probation on the new job are enough to deal with at times. If you're a FTO and getting a new recruit, be sure to ask if they are "new in town." If you hear a yes, do the recruit a favor and pull over. Go get a coffee and ask how they are transitioning to the new city. The time and advice you give will pay back rewards in the training process.
If the recruit is settled down and not worried about the peripheral things of life, they'll learn more. Lift the burdens from them; it will be more work for you, but it pays off. They'll appreciate it, as they transition into the resident stage.