Have you ever loved a police officer or a soldier? I have. Have you ever wondered why they chose their occupation to defend and protect? I have.
I am observing and photographing my fourth class of police recruits at the academy where I work. The recruits know I’m their photographer and have agreed to allow me to capture their moments in training with photographs. We smile at each other but don’t talk much because I respect their routine as being rigorous. They began as a class of thirty a few weeks ago. Now there are twenty-two and a few more of them won’t graduate in December.
I’ll try to be brief instead of forcing my usual long-winded chatter on you.
First formation on August 13. Some of them are prepared for seventeen weeks of Hell. Some are not prepared at all but might make it to the end.Intimidation is felt by the recruits on day one. Fear. They need support from their families and friends and to form a bond with their classmates.
Seven-foot two Sgt. Moore is a kind and somewhat shy man until he needs to test their physical and emotional strength. His command surprises me. I love working with him and listening to his strong and wonderful singing voice on morning runs. He weeds out the deadwood quickly.
This recruit is hearing things his mother would never say to him… Other commandants and trainers are ruthless, as well. Harsh words prepare them for the streets.
Many of the recruits don’t realize that physical preparation for a few weeks before they begin training would help them. They had warning.
Two weeks ago, I witnessed PT at 7:15 a.m. It was already eighty-five degrees and humid.
Stretching and getting ready for a grueling workout.The PT lasted over an hour and they were directed to run one-half mile, do twelve push-ups, run one-half mile, do twelve sit-ups, and they repeated the test at least twelve times. I wanted to lay down for a nap. They help each other with encouraging words if they have the breath to give…
Watching “Johnson” struggle was hard for me. I didn’t want to speak to her because I thought I’d be over-stepping my boundaries as a photographer. But I did anyway. She heard me say very softly, “Go, Johnson! Go, and finish!” And she did. She came in last but made it.
They learn from experts in areas of domestic violence, gang awareness, legalities, martial arts, hazmat, meth awareness, juvenile crimes, weapons, Spanish for law enforcement, driving, and much more. Our basic law enforcement training is regarded as superior at agencies in the surrounding counties.
Reporting for class after showers.
They smile! Yeah!
They’re prepared physically, emotionally, and academically. Academics and testing takes a toll on them when they are so physically exhausted.
I’ve met over one hundred police officers at the college during their state-mandated classes and in-service trainings. What I’ve noticed is that they have exceptional people skills and are wonderful folks. Oh sure, 5% of the entire population are a-holes. They are everywhere. I love the police officers. They care. And, if I find myself on a NC interstate speeding, maybe my trooper friend, Officer Willie, would give me a break? :o)
Sorry for another long-winded post. I'm just so proud of them.