Let me clarify something that is important. Training is a tough part of the job, and there are some who view it as play. Now, I've heard if it's fun more will want to participate. Really, it's tough and getting tougher, so let's review something once and for all.

Mental preparation is the key. If you know you're going to training in a classroom or at the range, make preparations for comfort so you can maximize the experience. You as the recruit should have your eyes opened wide because there's wealth of information out there that you need. Neither the academy nor the FTO program can provide everything.

Don't fall for the grumbling of old timers about heading to the academy. Don't listen to the naysayers; some people you can't please. You can always learn something; keep your mind and options open.

If you know what the topic matter will be, refresh your memory from your past experiences to see if you have any questions or to address weak-spot training that could be an extension from where the academy left off or provide new applications of laws or techniques. Don't walk in with preconceived ideas that block or stymie the learning process. 

Take items to enhance learning or increase your comfort. Walking into training empty handed is just plain stupid. I carry my portfolio with a writing pad, highlighter pen and favorite pen and pencils. If you have to take notes, use what is comfortable to you rather than a No. 2 lead pencil that a recruit had been teething on. Carry a highlighter for the good parts or the notes and your own paper instead of academy stuff that's been recycled. With budget cuts, academies should limit the use of expendable classroom items.

Going to the range? Bring your own hearing protectors and safety glasses. If not, you will have the hearing protectors with hair-gel goo all over them and safety glasses that are smudged and scratched. Take your own for hygiene and safety. Want to be really prepared? Invest in a few extra magazines; it saves time and cuts down on reloading pressure. Make sure you mark yours, because pistol magazines strangely disappear.

Time management is another important point. I've seen far too many officers get into post-training reviews or extra range time and leave abruptly because of poor time management. If you have to pick up the kids, go to another location; put a time buffer into your schedule. If the training is good or the range time is free and you walk out, shame on you. Maximize your training time.

Don't tell me, "If you want me on the clock, you'll pay me for it." I know many officers who have to pay out of their own pockets and take time off to attend top-notch training. Take control of your destiny. Planning to excel on the streets takes investment from you.

Training can mean survival, so when you have a chance to attend, make the most of it. I've heard all the excuses. Now I want results. Train like your life and career depend on it, because they do.

Author

William Harvey
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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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.

View Bio
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