If you’re not in great shape, think twice.
If you’re lacking in mental resilience, majorly reconsider.
And if you don’t have the heart, don’t even bother.
These lessons were quickly learned by Tustin PD’s three recruits as they continue their 26-week training at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy.
So far, 10 have dropped from class 220, but Tustin’s recruits said despite the many challenges they’ve faced in the last two months, quitting has not crossed their minds.
“If you can’t handle this, how are you going to be able to handle the streets?” said recruit David Valencia.
The whole point of the OCSD’s unabated training is to produce resilient and prepared officers.
“We don’t let up. It’s relentless,” said OCSD Lt. Jeff Puckett. “But there is a reason for everything we do. The more we acclimate them to stress here, the more they’ll be able to handle the real world.
“We teach them their own mental and physical boundaries can be broken when you push through. That saves lives on the streets.”
In the last eight weeks, the recruits have been introduced to arrest and control, use of force, search and seizure and grappling, among other subjects.
“The LD (learning domain) tests are getting more challenging and the PT (physical training) sessions are getting harder,” said recruit Ismael Aurelus. “But the class is starting to come together more.”
The recruits have been learning an overwhelming amount of information and they must be ready to flawlessly rattle off entire sections of the California Penal Code when a tactical officer demands it.
“Your need to have the discipline and accountability to stay on top of your studies and the protocol of the academy,” said recruit Leah Barrett. “Calling out your mistakes, learning from them and performing under stressful situations — there is more expected of us but this has been constant.”
The physical aspect of the academy has also steadily increased in difficulty.
Barrett, in one physical training session, maxed out with 83 pushups.
That’s 83, chest-to-the-ground pushups on top of having fatigued muscles from dozens of squat thrusts and mountain climbers.
Barrett didn’t brag about her number. In fact, she didn’t even bring it up.
Her colleague pointed it out in telling about the kind of physical demands recruits must meet nearly every day, which Barrett agreed are grueling.
“The academy is not the place to get in shape,” she said. “Your body will get sore, you may get injured and there is no time off or a break to heal.
“You need to be mentally strong knowing you can continue and push your body to its limit.”
The physical demands prompted several recruits to drop from the class, but others couldn’t hack it because of the mental fortitude needed to show up and perform in a high-stress environment.
For Valencia, mental resolve means keeping a sharp focus on his end goal and trying to strike a balance in his home life.
“When I’m at the academy or at home studying, reviewing or writing reports, I’m constantly thinking about my wife and my child and what I need to do to be the best for them,” he said. “When I do spend quality time with them, all I’m thinking about is what I could be doing right now to improve as a recruit and to prepare myself to be the best that I can be for myself, my family my department and my community.
“It’s just another one of the many sacrifices that I need to make in order to achieve my long-term goal of becoming a police officer.”
Check back with Behind the Badge OC every month for updates on the recruits’ progress.
To read more about the recruits click HERE.
To see how they fared in their first month, click HERE.