Regardless of what career path you choose, everyone starts at square one. Beginning a new career is daunting and can leave you feeling all sorts of emotions. Anxiety will be mixed with excitement, fear and hope for what the future holds for you. For those entering the police academy, these feelings are amplified. Along with the other accepted candidates, you can expect to feel eager to jump into cool combat training, but also nervous of the militant instructors you will be working with.
Whether you’ve come from a long military background or are fresh out of university, where you’ve earned a criminology degree, not much can prepare you for the police academy. While you may never be fully prepared, it helps to have an idea of what’s instore for you on your first day at the academy.
There’s A Lot to Take In
The first day at the academy will be over-whelming, that’s unavoidable. Instructors will likely be intimidating right off the bat and start shouting orders at you as quick as an auctioneer. While this may lead to instant confusion, just remain calm. Don’t take anything personally or let your emotions get the better of you. It is all a test. Think clearly and listen closely to what they ask of you and react to their commands.
Be Militant in Your Behavior
(Don’t Question Orders)
If you don’t have a military background that’s ok but expect to learn how to properly respond to commands quickly. There will likely be recruits in the academy with you who have had military training, so it helps to look to them if you’re ever uncertain about behavior.
When you enter the academy, it is probable that one of your first commands will be to move into formation. The key is to move quickly and with intent and not wander around like you’re lost. Just try to fall in line with the others in your group.
In standard military form you should stand in line with the recruit on your right, with about an arm’s length between you. Stand at attention, which is straight up with your arms at your sides, looking straight forward. Keep your chin up and feet positioned at 45 degrees. Make sure you stay in there and don’t move unless you are asked to. Don’t get distracted or move any parts of your body, including looking around the room or swinging you arms. Not to scare you, but keep a slight bend in your knees, as locked knees can lead to fainting.
Swallow Your Pride
During your time at the academy, and especially on the first day, you will likely do everything wrong. That is not saying that anyone is incompetent, but the experience is new, and it takes time to learn to do things the way your instructors want you to. There will be a lot of shouting and it’s important not to let it get to you. Instructors are showing their authority and ensuring those in the academy know who is in charge. It is of utmost importance to be disciplined as an officer and instructors will train you to be just that.
If you’ve done something they don’t like or that is incorrect, don’t babble on with excuses as they don’t want to hear it. Be precise and straight with your answers.
Learn Proper Manners
If you’re like most people, you likely don’t use “Sir” and “Mam” in everyday language. At the police academy you will be taught quickly that all superiors must be addressed formally and respectfully with the proper language.
Come Physically Fit
Ideally, when you enter the academy, you should have above par physical fitness. This will make it easier for you to meet the requirements of academy. If you are not fit than you will get fit fast with the drills, you will take part in. In classic military style you will do your fair share of pushups during your time at the academy, whether it’s you that messed up or one of your colleagues.
While your body will be physically tested to its limits, it will hugely increase your discipline. This will help you when you’re finally out in the field and faced with difficult situations where you will need a strong will to push through. This does not only apply to physically painful situations you may be faced. You will be faced will situations daily that will test your mental discipline, so it’s important to train that as well.
You will likely need to pass a variety of physical examinations in order to graduate from the police academy. This could be anything from body drags to running or fully-fledged obstacle courses.
Prepare for Paperwork
Hopefully you’ve brushed up on your writing skills, because you’ll be doing more than pushups and drills at the academy. There is a ton of paperwork that needs to be filled out on your first day. The administrative side is good to get used to as even once you’re on the job you will have to fill out reports and other paperwork each day. These reports are a huge part of your job and it’s essential they are properly filled out. Don’t worry, you will learn all about how to do this during the academy.
On the first day you can expect introductions to the course and signing contract-like documents that state you know what you’re getting yourself into. Make sure to look through everything carefully before you sign as this in itself is a test to your comprehension abilities.
You’ve Finished Your First Day. Now What?
The good news is that the first day will likely be the most stressful as you get a feel for what the academy is going to be like. Following that you will get trained on different combat skills and receive weapons training as well. You can also expect training and roleplaying various of different plausible scenarios that you may encounter in the field and learn how to effectively deal with them. This will include making arrests and how to respond to emergencies.
It’s important to remember that as intimidating and militant as the instructors may seem they are prepping you for the real-world challenges of the job. If you learn mental and physical discipline, build up your confidence and become resilient than you will have the best chance to achieving success in your law enforcement career.