Step 9: Field Training
What do you do now that you’re on the street facing real criminals? Here are some tips on what to do now:
Directly out of the academy you will be assigned to a patrol shift with your department and you will be assigned an FTO. Consider your FTO your mentor. FTOs become FTOs because of their experience as police officers. They have to prove themselves to become FTOs, so they know what they’re talking about.
Just like with all cops, each FTO will have his/her own personality and expectations. Learn quickly what that personality is and what those expectations are. Listen to everything your FTO has to say and don’t second guess a command or instruction.
Don’t ever say “but that’s not what they taught us in the academy.” Ask questions about the importance of the advice and discuss the differences between advice you’ve received in the past to what you’re receiving now, but never discredit what you’ve been told.
It is only a matter of time before you mess up and your FTO bites your head off. Don’t take it personally. Take it as a way to improve. Your FTO’s primary mission is to ensure you, he, and all other officers go home at the end of the night. Officer safety will never be taken lightly and if you do something wrong expect to be corrected right then and there.
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You will be spending countless hours with your FTO and other officers during your first few weeks on the job. Take every opportunity you can to learn from those around you, especially your FTO and other officers who have been on the job longer than you. It is a good idea to get perspective from officers of all ranks and experience.