Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Firearms Week

Well, three weeks in and things are definitely starting to get interesting. This week A Squad (my squad) spent all week in Firearms Training while B Squad was in Defensive Tactics. This is how every day's schedule looked:

Monday 01/19/09 - Friday 01/23/09
0700-0800 Breakfast
0800-1150 Shooting Range
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 Shooting Range
1700-1800 Dinner

Monday morning we spent the morning inside handling our pistols, learning the intricate parts of taking one apart, and then proceeded to undergo some "dry fire" drills. We learned to shoot from various positions including "officer down" ones where we may be on the ground (or other compromising positions). In the afternoon (after a delicious salad, of course) we went out into the wonderful weather... mind you it only got above freezing on Thursday... and began to shoot. Some of us had some gun experience but others had never even touched a weapon until now; regardless, we all shot fairly well from the three yard range. It's not too hard, of course. We also shot from the ten and fifteen yard points as well. We then shot a couple of rounds from the twenty-five yard line before heading in for the day.

Tuesday we focused more on our distance shooting with focus on the twenty-five and fifty yard lines. I had never shot at the fifty yard mark so I was fairly impressed that I shot as well as I did (nonetheless his the target). We were then introduced a bit to the concept of using cover for support at such distances which also made a big difference. In the afternoon we ran through the qualification course a few times with none of the time limits applied just to get a feel for it. The entire course is worth 240 points I was shooting 227-234 all day. Seeing as expert is 228 and above I can't say I was too upset.

Wednesday we were introduced to shotgun shooting (and later qualified on the ten point course, where less than 80% was a fail). This was fairly quick but plenty fun - I hadn't had much shotgun experience prior to coming to ILEA so I did miss a couple of times at the bigger distances. One of my squad mates, Joe from Alexandria PD, happens to be fairly proficient with a shotgun... so after a bit of coaxing (and some boasting of his own) I cleaned up my act and shot a perfect score on my qualification. Apparently, Joe could hit a deer from a half-mile away with a shotgun; I don't think that's physically possible, but I'll take his word for it. The rest of the afternoon we re-shot the pistol course and I was shooting above 228 all day. Expert seemed pretty plausible at this point. The nasty food tonight, which I tried, was spaghetti - it tasted a lot like what I imagine soap and tomato paste mixed together would taste like. We ordered Chinese again. The delivery driver must be loving me and the roommates.

Thursday morning we warmed up a bit (the weather finally got decent) and we started shooting pretty well. I had been shooting 240s all morning so I was pretty stoked. In the afternoon we ran our three qualifications rounds [where the average of the scores was our final] and most of us seemed to choke up a bit. I shot a 230, 220, and a 222 - not quite the Expert I was hoping to be. I don't remember most of the day because I was pretty steamed about everything. I do remember my roommate Scott, from Madison PD, complaining about how beat up he was from Defensive Tactics. One look at his arm and me and Keith, my roommate from Martin County, decided to stop making fun of him - bruises, cuts, and bite marks as far as we could see up his arm and into his chest. Needless to say, we weren't thrilled to be in his shoes.

Friday, which happened to be a pretty awesome day, was more for fun than anything else. In the morning half of us shot inside in low-light situations: using flashlights, dim lighting, and flashing squad car lights we got to shoot at moving targets. I felt pretty good putting most of my shots into the center of the target (and putting a few in the eye sockets) which relieved the stress from my horrible shooting the earlier day. We also used the FATS system for a while, but I chose to participate less seeing as most of the guys don't have the luxury of using a FATS system as often as I do. In the afternoon we ran drills at the outdoor range. Shooting backwards, under cover, over cover, and one handed shooting was pretty fun. The best part was... we got out an hour early!

That's it for this week! I would have updated a bit earlier but Defensive Tactics kind of kicked my butt yesterday. Trust me, next weeks blog will be filled with plenty of griping!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week Two

Ah, two weeks down so far (with April 17th very far into the future). This week was a little bit different than the last - we prepared for our "Break Out Weeks" and because of this had to go through some pretty long classes. But, more about that later... here's how the week went!

Monday 01/12/09
0800-0850 Written Exam #1
0900-1150 Physical Education
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1550 Physical Education
1600-1650 Jail Incarcerations
1700-1745 Dinner

I got back to ILEA late Sunday night (as I will probably do every week seeing as its a long, long three hour drive) and sat down with a buddy who lives in another dorm and began to study for our exam. Per ILEA standards you only need to pass any exam with a 75% but as this was the first exam we were all pretty worried about what to expect... come Monday morning I took the exam which was based off of the previous week's topics and an hour later found out I passed with a 94%. I even switched a couple of correct answers to incorrect ones, so I'm not too upset about it. Then for a majority for the rest of the day we had a physical education lecture (very similar to the one last week) that went more in depth to nutrition. It was fairly interesting but six hours of the same lecture does get a bit long. The final hour of the day was about jail incarcerations with a focus on how correction officers can assist police officers and vice versa - it seemed simple enough but was informative.

Tuesday 01/13/09
0720-0800 Breakfast
0800-0850 Physical Training
0900-1150 Suicide Management
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1350 Victim/Witness Assistance
1400-1450 Line of Duty Death
1500-1650 Law Enforcement Communications
1700-1745 Dinner

Tuesday started with a delicious bowl of Oatmeal just like every other day... the only difference today was I knew PT was immediately after. PT focused on core work, specifically the abs, and actually went pretty well - I imagined week two of PT would leave me hugging the trashcan but I guess not! I was pretty sore for most of the morning but after that I felt decent. The rest of the morning we had a lecture on suicide management and how to assist survivors in coping with suicide, helping those who show signs of depression that leads to suicide, and how to assist fellow officers (as we have one of the highest suicide rates across all professions). In the afternoon we learned about various city and county programs that help victims after-the-fact. We then had a short briefing on line of duty deaths, which unfortunately I being from South Bend had to speak about the losses of Cpl. Severns and Cpl. Polizzotto - after that we were informed on the procedures we should undertake to ensure our financial lives should the worst happen. That entire 45 minute class made the next one seem like it lasted forever; two hours of communications learning what dispatchers can do for us and how to properly use police radios. And upon returning to my room with my roommates we found our beds had been tossed as they were made incorrectly. What a lovely afternoon!

Wednesday 01/14/09
0720-0800 Breakfast
0800-1150 Firearms Lecture
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 Firearms Lecture
1700-1745 Dinner

Wednesday was an EXTREMELY long day but it wasn't completely bad - we spent the entire day learning the basics of firearm safety, operation, and cleaning. We also spent a bit of time on basic firing stances and shooter errors. This day was pretty important because next week A Squad (which I'm in) would be spending the entire week outside shooting. I had already learned a lot of the basic firearms information from working as a Cadet as well as qualifying with my duty pistol but I was eager to learn more about the tool I'd be working with for the rest of my career.

Thursday 01/15/2008
0720-0800 Breakfast
0800-0850 Physical Training
0900-1150 Physical Tactics Lecture
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 Physical Tactics Lecture
1700-1745 Dinner

Thursday morning went really well - in PT we started to learn the CrossFit stations we'd being doing fairly consistently and I have to admit I really like them. The rest of the day we spent learning what A Squad would be doing in our second "Break Out Week": Physical Tactics (aka Defensive Tactics). I have to admit while I can't wait to learn these techniques I'm not looking forward to having them used on me! By dinner time I couldn't stomach my salad... I was getting sick of the same thing and it was starting to get to me. So, after instead of going running like I usually do in the evenings I made an unhealthy choice: I ordered Chinese food for me and my roommates. And it was delicious.

Friday 01/16/09
0720-0800 Breakfast
0900-1150 EVO Lecture
1200-1300 Lunch
1300-1650 EVO Lecture

TGIF is all I had to say! I was so stoked for the weekend (and stuffed from dinner) that I skipped out on breakfast and went to class. EVO, or Emergency Vehicle Operations, is another "Break Out Week" I have to look forward too... and after the day long lecture I can't wait. We watched various pursuit videos, learned the basic high speed driving skills, and learned some neat tricks we can do at high and low speeds. We also learned the legal aspects, and responsibilities, of running hot (lights and sirens) to a call. The instructors were also laid back and had a great sense of humor - both A Squad and B Squad is looking forward to their EVO weeks. Without a doubt we know it will probably be the best.

That's it for this week! Next week class 2009-176 will start so it should be pretty interesting to see how they react to ILEA. I don't think my entry will be too long but trust me, I love to shoot at the range. I'm off to do some report writing!

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!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A little bit about me.

Hey everybody! I'm Aaron Knepper, SBPD's newest Patrolman. I'll be updating this blog (probably weekly) with stories about what its like to be an officer in South Bend. Before that though I think its best if you knew a little bit about me.

I'm twenty one years old and was born in South Bend but not raised here. I was actually raised in a small town in Georgia but moved back to South Bend during my eighth grade year. I went to high school at Riley where I actually geared my studies towards the medical field (I had little interest in policing at the time). I was on the swim team and helped reestablished the Latin Club but other than that I kept pretty much to myself (mostly because I was so tired from swimming). During my senior year the School Resource Officer (Sgt. Brian Kendal) informed all the students of a new program that allowed students interested in law enforcement the opportunity to "get a foot in the door" with the SBPD. At this time I had actually lost interest in med school and had already applied to Indiana University - South Bend for their criminal justice program. I applied for the new Cadet Program and was hired in with Kelly Dulcet in March of 2006.

I began my work in the Records Bureau entering data for arrest records, running the sales window (selling reports, gun permits, etc.), and performing background checks. About five months after that I began working in the crime lab focusing on the audio/visual part; I processed all the crime scene photos for evidence and made copies of the in-car camera systems for the prosecutor's office as needed. I had filled this position as the previous crime lab personnel had moved to a new position with the FBI - I stayed in until a new person was found to fill the position.

I then spent four months on the midnight shift working the front desk to take reports over the phone as well as for citizens. After that I spent the rest of my time as a Cadet working as a fraud investigator where I gained a new respect for investigations. Its amazing how a strange opportunity can change your perspective on a certain aspect of your career.

I also spent days at a time working with SWAT, NEST, K9 and other units to assist in training officers. It was pretty fun getting to play the "bad guy" so our officers could improve their skills. Of course, getting the play the bad guy also taught me how some people may think or act when approached by police officers so I benefited quite a bit from each training session!

However, as I continued to near my December 2008 graduation from IUSB I began my hiring process to become a sworn Patrolman. The process involved the physical fitness assessment, a written examination, two sets of interviews, a background check, a polygraph (lie detector) examination, a psychological evaluation, and then approval of Indiana PERF board. I started the process in August and was subsequently sworn in on December 23rd - which was perfect because I was slated to go to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy from January 5th til April 17th. I also graduated from IUSB with a BS in Public Affairs and a BS in Criminal Justice with hopes to get a masters in a couple of years.

That's pretty much it as it comes to my policing background. I never came from a police family (although my grandfather was an officer, but he passed away before I was born) but feel like I always knew this is what I wanted to do. Looking back at it all the other careers I had thought about seem pretty boring - I've learned in nearly three years as a Cadet that this is my calling and we'll definitely see how the academy treats me!

I'll be updating every Monday night with the previous week's post starting on the 11th! Hope my stories keep you hooked and I hope that anyone with any questions or comments contact me at AKnepper@SouthBendIN.gov!