Monday, January 12, 2009

One week down... oh so many to go.

Well, its official - my first week at ILEA has come and gone! And I have to admit its been a pretty interesting time so far. I've been fortunate enough to be rooming with two pretty good guys who, all joking aside between us, are all dedicated to our communities. Let's take a look at how week one went!

Monday 01/05/09
0800-1150 Entrance Processing
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1350 Entrance Processing
1400-1450 Welcome/Opening Remarks
1500-1550 Training Orientation
1600-1650 Formation and Drill
1700-1745 Dinner

Monday went pretty well; I had actually come down to Plainfield during the previous evening and enjoyed some time to myself. I woke up at 0530 and got ready for the day; I checked out of the hotel a bit after 0700 and headed to the academy which was only five minutes away. I arrived and began my processing by checking in and obtaining my ILEA ID tag. I then sat in "Class Room 2," which is where my class (2009-175) spends most of its time, until 0800 as the new officers from across the state arrived. At 0800 all thirty of us had arrived and our processing began: we were issued dorm room keys, bed linens, towels, and our student identification numbers. We spent most of the morning learning the academy campus and being introduced to most of our primary instructors. A bit before lunch we moved into our rooms (where I was introduced to my roommates, a deputy from Martin County and a patrolman from Madison City) and were allowed to grab all of our personal belongings from our squad cars. We were then introduced to the "lovely" lunches provided to us at noon, in which I've decided to stick to oatmeal and salad for the next fifteen weeks - those who choose different quickly learn why the motto around here is "Eat now, taste later." After lunch we ended our processing and met the Executive Director at ILEA who proceeded to teach us the best way to prepare for our classes and exams. We ended the day learning formation, drill, and marching (the later we spent many hours on, even out of class) and were informed that we have pretty simple lives now: After class all we should do is work out, do cardio, iron our uniforms, and study. And so we did.

Tuesday 01/06/09
0720-0800 Breakfast
0800-0850 Physical Training
0900-0950 Introduction to Physical Education
1000-1050 Introduction to Physical Education
1100-1150 Introduction to Physical Education
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1350 Entrance Exam
1400-1450 Intro to the Criminal Justice System
1500-1550 Intro to the Criminal Justice System
1600-1650 Formation and Drill
1700-1745 Dinner

Tuesday was pretty interesting for sure. The motto "Eat now, taste later" definitely held true after our first PT session - especially as a number of students couldn't master our first exercise (the squat) so we ended up doing approximately 150 and three half mile runs in 35 minutes. Some of us didn't like that at all. We then spent the rest of the morning (after a two minute shower) learning about Physical Education and how important it was... I think we learned real quick, especially as the next two days every students (myself included) had to wobble from here to there. After a break for lunch (I stuck to salad) we took a quick evaluation exam which was supposed to inform the staff as to what kind of learners we each were. We then spent two hours in a basic introductory course learning the history of the law enforcement system which for some of us was a review from college courses, but for others it was brand new material. The rest of the day was spent in Formation and Drill - we were taught there was a purpose to all of it and that it might behoove us to remember why.

Wednesday 01/07/2009
0720-0800 Breakfast
0800-0850 Ethics
0900-0950 Ethics
1000-1050 Ethics
1100-1150 Ethics
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1350 Ethics
1400-1450 Ethics
1500-1550 Formation and Drill
1600-1650 Formation and Drill
1700-1745 Dinner

Wednesday was a bit more relaxing even if none of us could walk straight... or stand up... or move without groaning like old men. I felt pretty decent prior to the academy as I had had a fairly intense fitness regimen going; apparently that meant nothing now, because I surely hurt in new ways. Thankfully most of the day was spent in an ethics class geared towards the ethical responsibilities of police officers in the modern day US society - most if it seemed to be common sense at first but the class quickly made you think. Is taking that free cup of coffee corruption? And how does one gauge where the limit is? By the end of the day not only did we have a few pages worth of notes but a new respect for more veteran officers who held strong this whole time. On another note, I was one of the first three to earn push ups: thirty after lunch for having my left back pants button undone. And yes, I got off easy.

Thursday 01/08/09
0720-0800 Breakfast
0800-0850 Physical Training
0900-0950 IDACS/NCIC
1000-1050 IDACS/NCIC
1100-1150 Consular Notifications + Amber Alerts
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1350 Cultural Awareness
1400-1450 Cultural Awareness
1500-1550 Cultural Awareness
1600-1650 Cultural Awareness
1700-1745 Dinner

Thursday was a scary day for us to begin. Most of us still hurt pretty bad and were fearful of what morning PT might bring - we all stuck to a little bit of oatmeal in hopes we'd only taste it once. Thankfully, PT wasn't nearly as bad as Tuesday... but we all still felt it. PT focused mostly on upper body strength (which I think I fared much better) and most of the students actually enjoyed it. I think "enjoy" may be mistaken for "feeling relieved" but I'm not really sure. After our two minute showers we spent the rest of the morning learning the IDACS and NCIC systems as well as taking a quick course on detaining/arresting non-citizens. We also learned how to properly create an AMBER Alert when a child goes missing - this was new to me so I was pretty impressed by the entire system. The afternoon was a long, but insightful, class on various cultures and their values - this is obviously important for any police officer as I'm fairly certain no county or city without people of different cultures. Even having taken culture classes in college I still learned quite a bit from the course so I have no complaints. Of course, I did have quite a bit of homework to do after classes... so I spent most of the night in the computer lab.

Friday 01/09/09
0720-0800 Breakfast
0800-0850 Introduction to Human Behavior
0900-0950 Introduction to Human Behavior
1000-1050 Procedures for Death Notifications
1100-1150 Procedures for Death Notifications
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1350 SIDS
1400-1450 Firearms Regulations
1500-1550 Jurisdictions
1600-1650 Study Session

Friday was by far the most interesting day especially since we were all in high spirits. We all felt better, were getting used to the amazing food, and were pretty stoked to get to go home for the weekend. We had a two hour session on human behavior with one of our favorite instructors and then a pretty intense two hour session on death notifications and injured/fallen officer notifications. The morning started with everyone smiling and cheery but by lunch time most of the students were pretty quiet - even for those who hadn't experienced a line of duty death the feeling were all the same. After lunch we jumped right into sudden infant death syndrome which also brought our spirits down quite a bit. Its at this point where a lot of realized that with all the excitement our career brings we'll be seeing a lot of the worst things imaginable. The rest of the day went pretty quickly, however, with a very informative hour on all weapon laws for the state and then a refresher course on jurisdictional powers. But when our favorite instructor walked in at 1600 for the exam review everyone had smiled on their faces.

That's it for this week! I'll be updating again next Monday with the events of week two. So far so good, especially as we're getting ready to see class 2009-176 begin! Stay tuned!