Sometimes, I just have to laugh at the new cadets I see going into the academy. These same people have complained for months about the application process. “The police exam was difficult. The physical fitness test was hard. I can’t believe I got through the panel interviews. The polygraph guy was out to get me.” After all of these complaints, they finally got through the process and were accepted into the police academy. And what did they do because they got accepted?
Nothing. They celebrate their success by letting all of the improvements they’ve made slip away from them. They quit studying their exam guides. They slack off with their workouts. They let their professional appearance become scraggly and disheveled.
Most importantly, they let their good habits and routines slide. I think that the common belief is now that they have made it to the academy, the academy will take care of all of these things – they think that they are already on the force, and no longer have to work for it.
This attitude can be costly. I have known many cadets who have flunked out of police academy, largely because they quit preparing for the tests and fitness requirements. In some ways, flunking out of the academy portion can be more embarrassing or troubling than if you were rejected during the application process; you have told everyone how you’ve been accepted, but now you need to return and explain why you could not complete the academy.
Some agencies will simply wash their hands of you if you fail the academy aptitude test, and then move on to the next applicant. There are some rare cases where you’ll be allowed to retake the test after having failed it your first time through. For instance the Oklahoma City Police Department will allow candidates to retake the test once within a 12 month calender period.
I think that what cadets going into the academy need to realize is this – your journey has just begun. The application process, with all the tests and hoops to jump through, is put in place to see if you have the raw skills and characteristics to be a good police officer.
The police academy, on the other hand, is a place where they will mold and groom you into an actual police officer. This is the place where you will have to grow, and as everyone knows, growth can be quite painful.
So, if you have been accepted into the police academy, you have a right to celebrate. You also need to get to work, though. If you want to be successful, you need to go into the academy prepared for everything that is going to happen.
What is The Police Academy Like?
Is the police academy hard? The short answer is hell yes, the law enforcement academy is absolutely hard. The reality is the police academy is only a short period of time, and you will be stretched and pushed a lot during that period.
The people who fail the academy are those who show up unprepared and unmotivated. The more preparation you can do outside of academy, the less you will have to do inside, ensuring that you are able to properly and effectively learn and meet all requirements.
The first thing you need to remember is to prepare for the multitude of written tests you’ll have to take. You will be quizzed, and tested on the justice system and laws when you are there.
This is key to being a police officer – you need to be able to recognize and enforce laws properly and knowledgeably. As well, you will be tested on your readiness for the street by going through scenarios and high speed pursuits.
The Indiana Law Enforcement Academy does a really good job of explaining what each training course entails on their website. Below are just a few training courses that you’ll have to successfully pass while at the academy.
- Defensive Tactics
- Felony Stops
- Weapon Retention Exercises
- Domestic Violence
If you are looking for some resources to help you prepare for these tests, I’d suggest downloading a police academy study guide. These guides will give details regarding the academy process, and also offers tips, study questions, and practice tests to help you prepare for your time at the academy.
Physical Fitness Test
It’s absolutely necessary that you maintain, or even increase, your fitness training. In order to complete the academy, there are certain physical benchmarks that you need to accomplish. However, as mentioned before, the police academy takes place over a short period of time. Your body will not have an opportunity to make major physical changes such as greatly increasing endurance or strength.
This is why I am warning you to keep training throughout the application process and the time between your acceptance and beginning the academy. Similar to the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy, many agencies publish their fitness requirements on their website.
So if you arrive at the academy out of shape, there’s only one person to blame. If you have no idea how to get started you can download a work plan here – they are specific to the police academy training, and will help you arrive at the academy in great shape for the challenges you will be given.
Your Appearance is Important
I think that one element that is most often forgotten is appearance. When you arrive at the academy, you should already look like a cadet. This isn’t a vintage police academy movie, where all the cadets are lined up in their underwear and go through a line, being given all their matching clothes and haircuts.
You are being judged from the moment you arrive, so be dressed and groomed for the occasion. Before you get there, make sure that you get a haircut, and any facial hair or accessories meet force guidelines.
Looking back, I remember a lot of good times during my time at the academy. However, I also remember how hard it was to keep up and succeed with everything that was going on. These tips won’t guarantee that your time at the academy will be easy, but they should set you on the right path towards a successful police career.
Where To Find Books, Manuals For The Law Enforcement Academy
There are a multitude of places that you can visit to obtain preparation books for the police academy. However there’a only one book I honest recommend. It’s called Prepare For The Police Academy. You can visit the webpage here for more information.