Step 10: Hit the Streets
You’ve finally been cut loose and your FTO is no longer breathing down your back. But you’re still a rookie. Here are some tips that will help you get through your first year:
After riding with your FTO for a few weeks you’ll be cut loose on your own. In larger departments you may have a partner, but usually you will be riding solo. Here are some tips to get a solid footing in your new career.
10 Steps to Joining the Force
1. Most situations will not be how they were described in the academy. Don’t lose sight of what is happening around you.
2. Don’t forget your job is to help people. Don’t be a jerk. Being cautious is good, but don’t be out to bust people just to bust people.
3. Listen to and respect officers who have been on the street longer than you have. They have the street smarts you need to learn.
4. Don’t neglect your family. Healthy family relationships are important to relieving job stress.
5. Don’t move too quickly. Sometimes rushing things at an incident can escalate a situation unnecessarily.
6. Don’t take things personally. You will be insulted regularly. Don’t let it get under your skin or you may end up doing something that leads to complaints or administrative action against you.
7. Slow down and wear your seatbelt. The number one cause of death for LEOs is car accidents. Take the extra 30 seconds or minute to get to your call. Don’t turn a simple call into a life threatening situation for you, fellow officers, or citizens.
8. Think before you speak. Whether you are speaking to a citizen, a suspect, a fellow officer, or a supervisor. Don’t say something you may regret down the road. You never know who you may offend.
9. Always know where you are. Learn your city’s streets and the directions the run in like it is second nature. Always know where you are and the direction you are going so that when you need backup you can tell dispatchers where you are.
10. Put your car in park.
Even though your time with your FTO is over, you are probably still in a probationary period that will last anywhere from 6 to 12 months following your graduation from the academy. In many agencies you are not protected from termination until your probationary period ends, so you want to be sure you do everything right. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Table of Contents
• Your sergeant will watch you closer than he watches your fellow officers
• You may get stuck with less than desirable assignments; it is part of the learning process
• Always be courteous and don’t overstep your bounds
• You still don’t know everything, so don’t act like it
• Reputations rub off easily – choose the right cops to associate with
• SLOW DOWN! Taking an extra 30 seconds to get to a call helps everyone a lot more than not getting there at all