Typical academy schedule/breakdown?
After two years as a high school English teacher, at age 24 I've decided that it's just not for me... The educational system baffles me with its emphasis on test scores rather than the actual kids. I enjoy reading and writing and everything, but I became a teacher to help people, not become a robot. Currently, most school systems seem to be going in the opposite direction.
In working in a school with a very high poverty rate and a large percentage of students from public housing, in two short years I've had some of my kids get shot, many of my kids' relatives or friends get killed, busted around dozen kids for drugs ranging from marijuana to cocaine and one case of meth, and many other fun things... All of this has lead me to begin preparing to change gears and enter the law enforcement field because I feel like if I can't save these kids from all this bad stuff as a teacher, maybe I can do it out on the streets. Sometimes I feel like I got plenty of law officer training from my school - not sure if that's good or bad!
I'm aware that the physical requirements will include plenty of running and generous doses of pushups/situps, but I haven't been able to find much in the way of a general academy schedule. I've got several questions in this vein, so I'll number them to make it simple:
1. Is there a basic schedule that is followed each day? For example, calisthenics in the morning, breakfast, running, class, lunch, work out, run, dinner, etc.
2. How extensively will physical techniques such as self-defense, takedowns, gun accuracy, etc. be covered?
3. How well-prepared on report writing, familiarity with the most commonly encountered laws, what to do in certain situations, etc. did most of you feel afterwards?
4. Is it a waste of time to study state laws and codes before entering the academy?
Thanks for the help! I've found plenty of information on this site already over the past week or two, but any sage advice or sharing of experience dealing wi the subjects of these questions would be awesome!
First: You're not going to make any more of a difference in kids' lives as a cop. You have a much better chance of positively impacting kids' lives as a teacher than you would as a cop. If you don't think you're making enough of a difference, I'd address what you're doing as a teacher as opposed to changing careers. I'm not saying you're not a good teacher - I'm sure you're good at it - but if you want to go above and beyond and really make a difference, just find your niche in the education field. If your students are victims of violence out of school, find ways to keep them at the school longer and out of trouble when they're not there.
If someone were to tell me they want to be a cop because they want to "help people", I'd direct them to go be a teacher.
In my academy, we did PT first thing in the morning, then had class, lunch, more class, cleanup, then home for homework, making of lunch, preparing uniforms, studying, wash rinse repeat. It was a non-residential academy. We brought our lunch and any other food we needed throughout the day, though we had no breakfast or dinner times. For the few times training hours were offset to accommodate the need to train in low-light situations, the hours were simply shifter later in the day (and often PT skipped because those training days occurred away from the academy grounds). I know other academies that PT at the end of the day, specifically those that don't have shower facilities.
Enough to keep you alive. The academy is a bare minimum standard training. Skills need to be practiced and expanded upon throughout your career. I did not receive enough DT skills in the academy at all.
I felt very well versed on laws, but handling situations and report writing takes practice and observation (watching others handle situations and reading other cops' reports) was where those skills were really learned. That's the exact purpose of the Field Training Officer (FTO) phase of employment.
Probably a waste, yes, unless you're taking courses from cops. You're never going to be able to read raw law and really get a grasp of it. Spend your time getting in better shape, because far more recruits get bounced out due to lacking physical skills or getting injured than those who fail out academically.
I appreciate your candid response!
The problem for me with teaching has been that I am making a difference and I've literally been told not to.
I was told that my job is to teach and nothing else and that kids shouldn't talk to teachers about anything except academics. Most of the kids at my school come to me when they have a problem or need to talk because they know I'm still young and understand their viewpoints but care enough to actually try to help them instead of giving them empty memorized advice. I was told that unless I go get a counseling degree I can't give any students advice about anything not related to my specific class, and that just seems crazy to me. I think the new principal is worried about any tiny thing that could possibly lead to a law suit and is thinking that teachers giving any sort of advice at all is a potential law suit.
As for your advice to keep kids at school longer to keep them out of trouble, I was doing that but it got shut down as well... I was giving free guitar lessons after school for a long time but was told that I couldn't do that anymore either because they wanted the building cleared 15 minutes after school ends? I coached softball as well, which helped keep those girls out of trouble, but our team captain got shot in the knee during the offseason, so it isn't a year-long solution.
Maybe I just need to be at a different school. Things weren't like that until after we got a new principal this past year, but this past year was absolutely miserable for a lot of us and it definitely hurt my ability to teach effectively. I'm taking my time making a definitive decision because I realize that I'm a bit disillusioned with teaching at the moment. I just know that if education is heading to a place where teachers are supposed to ignore the real issues that today's teenagers deal with on a daily basis that I can't continue with it because most of my kids don't have a dad in their life to turn to and it feels too cold to refuse to be an alternative source of help. I'd rather be doing something to actively make a difference than to sit around watching everything happen. Our assistant principal is a former cop and I've worked with her a lot in nailing drug dealers and users at our school partly because it's so rampant that I've gotten good at spotting it and partly because I have a lot of students who will privately give me tips on who to watch. I feel like that's something I could feel proud of doing for a living, and ultimately if I don't have pride in my job, it's not a job I want to keep.
Anyway, that sounds good! It sounds like the training times will vary a good bit day-to-day. The lazy part of me likes the possibility of PT coming only at the end of the day, but the proactive part of me prefers it to come early on while the day is young. I'm not actually sure whether or not the academy I'd go to would be residential; I guess that makes a pretty big difference as well.
I used to be in tae Kwon do in middle and high school, so I have a good familiarity with defensive techniques, I'm just really rusty. Maybe the little bit of practice will be enough to refresh things, but yeah, I might opt to rejoin a dojo after the academy if that's the case because that seems like a pretty important skill to hone as soon as possible.
I'm glad to hear that reading up on the laws is a waste; that wasn't something I was looking forward to! Wading through legal reading is like sticking needles through your eyelids over and over. Learning from the vets makes sense for the situational responses.
Would you say that you generally feel like you're doing something that matters at the end of a shift? My whole life I've just wanted to serve somehow and make a difference; I wavered between teaching, becoming a cop, and joining the navy for a long time. Knowing that what I do is important is a big motivational factor for me.
Originally Posted by AdmiralTrey
There are MANY careers, professions, jobs where you can "serve" or be "useful" BESIDES law enforcement work. You should go out and learn more about what LE work entails, day to day, week to week... Right now, it doesn't sound like it's going to match what you're looking for...
Originally Posted by AdmiralTrey
Those were two detailed and well-thought out responses and I appreciate that. The possibility of being an LEO posted at a school was one of the first things that came to mind, but then I thought that it could be a little bit awkward since I'd be in the same environment with an entirely different set of responsibilities and priorities.
I've been told by many people that I'd make a fantastic counselor, but while helping people is definitely high on my list of priorities, I think a lot of counseling is of the politically correct hogwash variety... My advice tends to be more straightforward.
I'll definitely be looking into the day-to-day responsibilities in the typical day of an officer. I know that in the military there are ratings or MOS's that define the separated roles a bit more clearly, whereas with LEO's there are just as many different paths to take, but harder to find clear and detailed information of each one.