It’s not getting any easier, and it’s not supposed to.
Tustin PD’s recruits, now with three months of instruction under their belts at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy, are still being pushed to the limit mentally, physically and emotionally.
And Ismael Aurelus, Leah Barrett and David Valencia said they don’t expect the load to lighten anytime soon.
They are tested, then tested again, and the answers for these exams are not the kind you can commit to short-term memory to score an easy A.
The things the recruits are learning are essential law enforcement tools that will be called upon for decades to come.
“Nothing is easy to learn,” Aurelus said. “You have to learn it and make sure you apply it throughout your entire career.”
Investigative report writing, learning how to serve citizens with disabilities and patrol techniques are just some of the subjects covered in month three at the academy.
Some topics and tactics are more difficult to master.
“My biggest challenge this month has been arrest and control technique — the fluidity of the techniques and intricate details that play an important role gaining (and) maintaining control of a subject,” Barrett said. “It has been very important to practice and know the steps or you could hurt yourself or your subject.”
While other things have come easier than the recruits expected.
“I had never handled a weapon prior to the academy,” Valencia said. “Even though I still have a lot of room for improvement, I feel like I am picking it up quickly.
“On Saturday mornings, I go to the range to practice.”
There is a lot of practicing that happens on the recruits’ off time from studying for the next day’s tests, to preparing homework assignments.
Monday through Friday they are in a strict routine that has left little time for anything else.
“My home life is tough,” Valencia said, describing the little amount of time he gets to spend with his wife and two daughters. “My wife is amazing and takes care of everything else while I start my reports, homework and study.”
Valencia is home for bedtime prayers but misses morning hugs. He knows it will be worth it come graduation.
“If you are truly passionate about something and it means a lot to you, then go get it,” he said. “You have to make sacrifices and put in the work.”
The recruits said when it gets really difficult, it helps to know their peers face the same challenges.
“I believe our class has bonded pretty well since month one,” Barrett said. “We look to improve ourselves as a class and support each other.”
Added Valencia: “There is something about going through the blood, sweat and tears as a class that just brings us together.”
Visit Behind the Badge OC next month to check in with the recruits as they tackle month four.
Catch up on the recruits’ time in the academy:
Inside the Academy: Meet Tustin PD’s recruits
Inside the Academy: Tustin PD recruits tackle month 1
Inside the Academy: Training intensifies for Tustin PD recruits in month 2