Fleeing felons. Distraught victims. Traffic accidents. Angry crowds. Police officers must be ready to deal with a range of stressful situations. Therefore, thorough training is essential to new recruits. Most prospective officers go to police academies before joining the force. Whether the academy is a large state facility or a small regional school, candidates receive instruction designed to protect both the public and themselves.
Academy trainees learn about the laws they will uphold, including local and state penal codes. These cover situations such as DUI, property crimes, sex crimes, traffic incidents and crimes against individuals. Students practice the procedures needed to reinforce these laws. They learn basics of patrolling, including writing reports and communicating with other police officers. Trainees get experience in making arrests, searching individuals and using handcuffs. They learn how to make traffic stops, search buildings, investigate vehicle crashes and deal with crimes in progress. In addition, trainees learn basic first aid skills and CPR to use in emergencies.
On the Road
Students of the police academy learn how to drive a police car, which is considered an emergency vehicle. Along with basic vehicle safety, students practice defensive driving. They also get instruction in how to chase vehicles in a way that avoids accidents, protects the public and doesn’t hurt community relations. In addition to patrol cars, some police academies offer training in other vehicles, such as scooters, bicycles and buses.
Fit and Ready
Physical fitness is an important part of police academy training. Some schools encourage prospective students to begin a fitness program before entering the academy. Strength exercises, endurance training and good nutrition are part of the program. In addition, students work on physical challenges particular to the job, such as self-defense without weapons and baton use. They practice physical confrontations, including controlling, subduing, frisking and handcuffing suspects.
Interacting with the public is a large part of a police officer’s job. Therefore, a class in human relations is included in academy training. In addition to maintaining good community and media relations, students learn to deal with many special situations. They receive instruction in how to interact with people from other cultures and individuals with disabilities. Trainees become familiar with managing domestic violence situations, missing-person cases and hate crimes. They also become aware of stress management techniques and sexual harassment issues.
Working with weapons is crucial to law enforcement preparation. Students study the basics of firearm care, safety and marksmanship. In addition to standard police sidearm training, students learn about a variety of other weapons. These include firearms, such as shotguns; chemical weapons, such as pepper spray; and non-lethal alternatives, like stun guns. In addition to becoming competent with weapons, trainees work on strategies to avoid weapon use when possible.
- St. Petersburg College: Florida CMS Law Enforcement Basic Recruit Training Program
- LAPD: Academy Training
- NYPD: Police Academy: Tactical Training Unit
- Community College of Aurora: Police Academy Courses: Course Descriptions
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Police Officer or Detective
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