“Do you even know where you are?” “Pretty sure you crossed state lines!”
If you have been through field training, your FTI, or field training instructor might have said these two phrases, and many more.
For those who do not know, after graduating the academy, a newly sworn in officer spends a certain amount of time with another officer. The FTI grades them on everything they do from knowing their area to dealing with various calls to service. This training is critical because the academy gives the knowledge, but the FTI period is when you learn how to actually be a “cop”.
For some, the transition can be challenging. Every day I put on the uniform, but in the beginning I failed to see what others saw. I knew who I was and what I stood for, but others just saw another police officer.
When handling calls, it took me a while to see that others actually reacted to my presence. Civil situations were resolved simply because I was there and I made a suggestion.
On the other side of that, situations were made more complicated because of my presence. I remember handling one call where a man was having a mental breakdown. My mere presence made him act more irate. I do no not walk around thinking I have a badge pinned on, yet that is the learning curve a new rookie has to manage.
I have always been soft-spoken, yet I learned early on that this can not always be the case. I learned this when responding to a domestic dispute. I tried to walk in the room and start “handing the situation”, yet no one there wanted me to. Constantly I was talked over, yelled at, and ignored. Eventually my FTI gave me a look that suggested I had to control the room, that I was the police. As police, we don’t always get loud because we want to, but there is some aspect of policing that warrants us to.
That domestic call was the first time I had to prove that I had what it took. I had to stop the whole situation in an instant and take command. Did anyone there like me? Probably not. But sometimes them not liking me is better than a shouting match turn violent.
As a police officer, we don’t always enjoy what we have to do, but going in, I knew that’s what I signed up for. We are human. We each handle certain calls better than others, and we constantly get better.