From his childhood to now, Kyle Meyer has configured virtually every aspect of his life with a single objective in mind: to become a police officer.
“I was always like, I want to be out there at 2 a.m. looking for criminals that would victimize innocent people,” Meyer said.
Recently hired as a police officer for the Tustin Police Department, Meyer is going through the final stages of training with his goal well within reach.
“All the decisions I’ve made in high school or college have all been geared towards ‘I want to become a police officer,’” he said. “I made sure I made smart decisions to even get hired on as a police officer.”
Having graduated from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy about a month ago, Meyer is now in the second of his four phases of on-the-job training with the Tustin Police Department.
If he passes training, he’ll be a patrol officer.
Meyer served as an Explorer with the Brea Police Department for three years before being hired as a cadet with the Tustin Police Department in 2018. Serving as a cadet reinforced his desire to become an officer.
“I think it is a really good stepping stone for people who are really young and eager to join law enforcement, especially because you get to see behind the scenes,” Meyer said.
As a cadet, Meyer gleaned as much information as possible about the job, going on frequent ride alongs, becoming familiar with the day-to-day operations of every unit, and getting to know the various neighborhoods in the city.
“I tried to go as much as I could,” Meyer said of the ride alongs. “Getting exposed to a lot of these calls is pretty cool, especially early on and then learning and building up after that.”
After seven months as a cadet, Meyer took the next step toward becoming a sworn officer: he applied to become Tustin Police Department’s first detention officer.
After passing background checks and interviews, Meyer started his five-week adult core corrections course with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He successfully completed the course followed by two months of field training.
“He was pretty squared away, super eager, ready to learn, did a good job of paying attention,” said Officer Rob Ward, Meyer’s field training officer as a jailer. “He had the expectation of becoming a police officer one day. He didn’t settle for just trying to learn simple jailer stuff. He wanted to learn about the job also.”
From being a jailer, Meyer went through the extensive application process to become an officer.
He attended a three-month mini academy at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and then advanced to the Sheriff Department’s six-month academy.
But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the academy was shut down for a few weeks about halfway through and the six-month academy wound up being strung out over eight months.
“It definitely is tough and hard,” he said of the academy. “You are doing push-ups for hours. You are going to get yelled at and screamed at, but if you have the right mindset, it’s actually pretty fun when you look back at it. What I hear is, it’s the best thing you never want to do again.”
Now in the home stretch, the final phases of training are essentially on the job, going out on calls and observing officers and responding to calls while being observed and evaluated.
“It’s a steep learning curve and not everybody gets it,” Ward said. “Society is different now. Laws have changed. Somebody taping you with a cell phone … back then, it just didn’t happen. Now everybody’s got a phone and everybody is clipping it down to only what they want you to know. He’s probably well ahead of where most people are at his stage because he had that extra experience and had that extra drive.”
If he makes it through, Meyer is fully aware he’ll be embarking on a career that has become more difficult and more heavily scrutinized in recent years.
“Being able to go out and do something that other people wouldn’t want to do, that was always my philosophy; to be out there with other like-minded people to go out and protect people,” Meyer said.