Thursday, July 9, 2009

Coming Soon!

Coming soon: new blogs from the next class of academy recruits -- beginning in late July!

Saturday, June 20, 2009



I was lucky enough to get the chance to give our class’ graduation speech today. Below is a copy.

The day was a good one.

Jefferson County Law Enforcement Academy Class 2009-01
Graduation Speech

It’s an honor and a privilege to be speaking to you all, and to be speaking for the class today. I would like to thank Sheriff Mink, Undersheriff Fleer and every one of our friends, our family, our instructors and command staff for joining us in the celebration of this day.

From the very start of the academy we’ve been surrounded by some extraordinary people who have taught us, who have led us, who have given their best to shape our minds, our thinking and inevitably shape our careers as Peace Officers. From our very first day I was struck with the force and the honesty of what many of these instructors had to say. From powerful, personal stories of struggle and ultimate growth, to impassioned appeals directing us to seek excellence in all that we do – most every message, most every lesson was one given by an individual bearing a bit of their soul with a seasoned kind of humble honesty which only life and life’s experiences can cultivate.

I would like to thank our command staff and the administrators of the academy for placing these extraordinary people in front us, every day. I know that I and every one of my fellow recruits will have some very potent, some very long lasting memories of each of you and of the knowledge that you gave.

Thank you Captain W….. , for teaching us to write a proper and thorough report; and to never click a pen in a Captain’s presence again.

Thank you Captain S…… and Lieutenant W……. for organizing and maintaining one of the best law enforcement academies in the state; and for giving us the easiest and most anti-climactic Friday morning command inspections we could have imagined.

Sgt. B…….. I was never quite sure if there was a hidden message behind one of the department’s toughest, gruffest and brawniest sergeants teaching a decidedly PC topic such as Community Policing, but I wanted to let you know that your honesty and your openness on your experiences at Columbine touched us all very deeply.

Investigator S…... Your classes were always the coolest.

Sgt. W…. Your stories were always the best, and your appearance always the most highly groomed.

Deputy V……. Your biceps were the biggest.

Sgt. B…….. Your skills in a car were impressive, your stories were great, and incidentally you became our best and most prolific nickname-giver, providing us names like ‘Angel’ (i.e. Charlie’s Angels) given to the guy over there who will probably start laughing nervously right about now.

Officer O….. You were our Samurai sensei. We all had images of you in a white suit and sunglasses, doing back-flips before taking a stance like something from the Matrix and shooting 5 bad guys between the eyes from a pair of handguns that mysteriously appeared from your shirtsleeves.

Sgt. DeA….. and Sgt. De…... We sat in your classes like kids just confronted by their childhood heroes, wide-eyed and inspired.

DA’s Mark Pautler and Mark Randall. I was tempted to write the Denver Post and to explain to them that from what I saw and learned in your law classes, both of you are absolutely worth every penny as the highest paid employees in Jefferson County.

Sgt. Wh….. Our vocabularies have been infinitely expanded with your help. Unfortunately I cannot repeat any of those words here…

Deputy S……... Your nickname to all of us was Hollywood. Rare is the arrest control instructor who can wear Gucci sunglasses and a spray tan and get away with it. You were the exception. You taught us to take care of ourselves and you did it with class, and even broke an arm in the process. Even the Israelis would be impressed.

Sgt. W…... From day one, I felt like a member of the audience of the Tonight Show, every time you’d speak to the class. There’s an uncanny physical resemblance and I believe that you’re every bit as funny as Jay Leno. You were always there to accentuate a particularly important piece of instruction, there to encourage, there to instruct.

Deputy H……. Our lead firearms instructor and Deputy J’s other half and complement. At times it appeared to us that there was a purposeful mother/father or good cop/bad cop dynamic between the two of you. Deputy J would scold us, and you would offer us some bit of comforting, quiet humor. You taught us firearms with skill and devotion and ran the training range like a quiet general. Thank you, Mom.

And finally, to our coordinator, Deputy J.

Sir, I am still, and will always be afraid of you.

You were quick to anger, yet equally quick to laughter, and even tears. It happened on more than one occasion when, during the drudgery of a class on statutes the monotony would be interrupted by an outburst of your laughter, heard even through solid walls and a closed door. We would all share in a collective smile.

We had the pleasure of getting to know your daughter from the stories you told, and the messages you relayed: “Ashley says HI….” (for instance)

We even received gifts from time to time. Thank you Ashley, for my surfboard.

Sir, even without the pushups, and even without the military etiquette, you instilled in every one of us a deep respect for the badge and a deep respect for the duty shared by each individual wearing the gold star. Your presence alone commanded respect and in my mind you are the epitome of a strong and thinking Sheriff’s Deputy, our department’s own John Wayne.

None of our instructors ever hid from us the seriousness of the profession that we are entering. Nothing was ever sugar coated. As peace officers we will now be part of the thin blue line, (or in JeffCo’s case, the thin green line), where battles are fought daily between opposing extremes – life and death, justice and villainy, peace and chaos.

I mentioned earlier the theme of honesty which was present throughout our days. After this afternoon each one of my classmates will be a part of system which, when one looks closely, is truly remarkable by virtue of the limits it places on itself, the self reflection it ensures; the self effacement it demands. We are now part of the law, now the enforcers of society’s own check, which society has placed upon itself to ensure that justice be done and that the innocent be protected. We are the protectors of democracy’s freedoms, and of democracy’s inherent demand of structure and order.

Because of our time here we will take these duties to heart. We will laugh when we can and we will fight when we must, but always, with honesty and dignity will we serve and protect, by courage and arms. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Little Things, Among the Big…

I just finished ironing some uniforms. I also finished cutting the badge holes into the my uniforms above the left front pockets. Holes in the fabric. For a badge.

Yup. It was an epiphany of sorts – one of those small, mundane moments when the force of the ‘now’ hits; when you realize what’s going on in the present. In less than 72 hours I’ll have a badge.

The last two weeks have been a blur. Today we took our POST certification test. (I passed, btw). We then hit the much-talked-about Lookout Mountain Run. Both were honestly a bit anti-climactic for me. But…the badge holes….now THAT’S inspirational. (yes, the tongue is in my cheek).

Last week we were TASED (which wasn’t mandatory, of course). I thought about writing a whole entry on it, but it really comes down to one thing: pain. Lots of it. It hurts. I’ll never need to experience it again to ‘remember’ what that kind of pain felt like.

Last week we had some pretty educational, and fun, experiences in the classroom – in a mock crime scene investigation and in a pretty dynamic ‘wet lab’ where various deputies and department staff get drunk (in a perfectly cordial and controlled environment) and allow us to practice our DUI identification skills.

This week we’re preparing for our graduation ceremony. I just got off the phone with some friends who are coming…I gave ‘em directions, gave them the invite to the dinner my parents are throwing afterward. Suddenly, 20 weeks are up, after a lot of pain, a lot of joy and accomplishment, and a lot of hard work. Just like that. You start as a nervous, wide-eyed new recruit, and the next thing you know you’re cutting holes in your uniforms for a BADGE.

Just a thought.

Anyway, here are some pictures!!! :

Me. In pain. Flattering image, eh? They’re laughing, by the way, because I let out this horrendous howl. It slowly faded in intensity as my lungs ran out of air. It sounded like someone was falling from a cliff or something. “Ahhhhhh…hhhh…hhh…hh..h”

Self explanatory!

Mock Crime Scene!

Interviewing at a "crime scene"

Photographing evidence at a "crime scene"

Wet Lab!

Roadside sobriety tests

Some walk a straight line better than others.

Checking eye movement

More eye movement

Walk the line

Thursday, June 11, 2009

DRIVING, Continued…

Thanks Deputy B. for sharing your car with us!

So, last week I mentioned a secret desire to see and possibly film a wicked crash. It didn’t happen. I did, however, do a 360 at about 55mph into the dirt. That kind of counts, eh?

Seriously though, I was impressed with our cars, our track, our instructors. We also got a ton of driving time. When the week began I expected to be sitting around for 7 ½ hours out of the day, and driving maybe 30 mins. NOT the case. We got a ton of practice in (which is why nearly disqualifying (in my case) on the open course is somewhat embarrassing, ha).

Getting ready for the next run.

Driving home on I-70 after the days had ended was a hoot. I had to consciously slow myself down. Laws are meant to be obeyed, Will. Speed limits are laws. This is your job now. Jeez.

Taking a break while the instructors set up the next course.
Good looking group of men and women, I think.
Call a JeffCo recruiter today.

These last three weeks have been as intense as any we’ve experienced in the Academy. On Monday I was TASED (don’t fight with the cops!). Today we had a full day of mock crime scene practice. INTENSE. But with a ton of world-class help from Investigations’ Finest. This is really where my own personal interests lie. It was fascinating and extremely educational to go through an investigative scenario from start to finish with the help of some true pros. Stay tuned for further postings on my smoking hot date with about 10 trillion electrons operating at 50,000 volts, as well as our experiences investigating and arresting an attempted murderer (mock, mock, of course).

Night drive…lights and sirens! Noise and flashing lights!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fast Cars and Psychedelic Paint Bullets


I have this scab on my arm. I actually took a picture of it and was even thinking of posting it here but you should all be thankful that the voice of reason (albeit a tired and wheezing voice) was heard, and I decided to NOT post the picture.

These Simunitions (Sims) things hurt.

They’re effectively bullets of paint fired out of converted handguns, coming at you at about half the speed of a real bullet…

But they’re also really instructive and a ton of fun. We played out various scenarios over the course of a couple of days. When you get hurt, you know it, and you DON’T make the same mistake twice. Some pics from our adventures:

Thanks be to Deputy H., for all his hard work. May your cleaning rods never rust!


This is fun. Shear fun. I’ve never had so much fun before while getting PAID. These are just a sampling. We’re two days into the driving program, with the rest of the week to come. Stay tuned!

And I’ll confess…I’m secretly hoping for a minor crash…provided no one gets hurt, no property is damaged, and the VIDEO is rolling, of course. Everyone’s driving pretty well though…and it didn’t happen today, even with torrential down-pours and high speed maneuvers. Sometimes one can only hope.

Thanks, Deputy J, for the pictures!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Such Is the State of Things

I’m guessing that it’s natural to think of Spring, and the coming of Summer when Memorial Day hits. Recently we had an extra day off for the holiday. Besides being welcome, and NEEDED (my fellow recruits and I were teetering on the brink of collapse), all the downtime, the couch time, the beer-and-hot-dog time gave me an opportunity to dwell a bit upon my Academy experience, and to gawk a bit at the surprising realization that we’re getting near to the end.

Today we took our formal class pictures for graduation. The scene, by the way, was great. Picture a perfect Spring day in Colorado, skies blue, breeze blowing. 70 degrees. Red Rocks. Tourists. Lots of tourists. Lots of tourists watching as 41 bright and wide-eyed recruits came marching down the flag stone walkway, in full uniform (we’ve graduated to belts and guns even!) marching to a cadence sung by our own Deano, in deep baritone bass that rivaled even the stuff the guys down below doing a sound check for an upcoming concert could dish out with their subwoofers …

Firearms training; check. Arrest Control; check. OC Spray; check. We’ve done a lot. A lot is left to come – and even then we’re really we’re just beginning the journey as rookies. Mixed feelings. Daunted by all that’s left to come. I’m somewhat proud of our little accomplishments, proud at how we have all grown a bit in a relatively short period of time.

“Hell Day” PT with Sgt. W. It may not have been ‘Hell’, but …

A pull-up or two …or maybe 23?

Liquid FIRE.

We had to fight a dummy for 30 seconds after the spray. It gets your mind off the steadily increasing pain. Trent hitting away at what (at this point) he can’t see.

Yours truly wondering when the pain was going to REALLY hit. It did. Right after I had that thought.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


So this Twitter thing…have you heard about this, do you know about this? I thought to myself today that if, IF I were Twittering, today would have been a good one to Twitter about. In homage to Twitter, I’ve prepared some sample Twitters for the day…a true day in the life of an Academy Recruit.

(I promise I won’t use the word “Twitter” again!)

Coffee. Glorious coffee. We have ‘scenarios’ in Arrest Control today. AC techniques, use of force continuum applications running through my head. Fear of failure, but motivated to hit it hard…

First one down. Deputy S. was playing a drunk. I did ok, but talked too much, and used an arm bar to arrest when I should have used a simply, lowly ‘bent wrist’.

Disaster! Deputy S. tripped on a mat, fell and broke his arm! We’re all outside of the mat room waiting for word on his condition. Rhod is inside splinting him up.

Deputy S. just left for the hospital. He apologized to US. Unbelievable. Class. Pure class. Thanks, and GOOD LUCK!

We keep on going, even after Deputy S.’s injury. Second scenario goes well. Garrett and I separate two ‘bar patrons’ who were going at it. We didn’t hesitate. I was proud of this.

Scenario 3! Cody and I dealing with a domestic violence situation. Do well, no hesitation in arresting the guy, but could have been a little smoother, and could have communicated better. Cody’s a trip.

RAID active shooter scenarios in a vacant office building. The place smells like mildew. Dark. Dank. Creepy. And perfect. Using simunitions today. Suited up and ready to go.

Welts! These things hurt. Sergeant W. giving us some good instruction. We line up and practice shooting the simunitions on a partner, Tombstone “draw and duel” style. Rhod lays some head shots on my mask. Covered in orange paint!

First scenario down. We could have done better. Someone threw a round and missed the ‘shooter’. This could have been me, ha. Rhod, Jim, Chad and I in the contact group. We didn’t enter into the darkened room simultaneously (as we should have). Should have been slower, calmer, more methodical.

Second scenario. We rocked it. Emptied our mags into the shooter. I was point. Chad, Rhod right there with me. Situation was chaotic. SWAT guys yelling at us, simulating a real, loud, riotous scenario. We kept it slow, tight and organized. Felt good.

Third scenario. Failure! Scott was the ‘bad guy’, and armed with a sim-converted Glock. He definitely won. Tough scenario. We all got shot I think. Welts up the side of my chest. I had a weapon malfunction and took cover (which was WRONG!) and kind of screwed up the rest of my crew. Sgt. W. made us do it again….and again. Didn’t end the day on a high note…

*These last week has gone by extremely fast. We’re getting closer to the end of the Academy and can all feel it. I have a bunch of media that I’ll post soon, very soon. Sprayed in the face with pepper (OC) spray. Driven into the ground on our ‘Hell Day’ PT. And more, so much more. Stay tuned!*