Attending a police academy is not like attending any other job training program. It has more in common with military ‘boot camp’ combining mental and physical preparation in a sometimes stressful and demanding environment. While police training programs aren’t ‘set up’ to make you fail, they are sufficiently intense to weed out candidates who might not have the right mental and emotional makeup to be a law enforcement officer.
A good way to help jump start your successful police training program is to prepare yourself for the challenges that await. Here are six tips to help you prepare for and survive the police academy:
1. PREPARE YOURSELF PHYSICALLY:
Approach the police academy like NFL football players approach training camp. Physical conditioning is a very important part of the law enforcement training process. In fact, you won’t graduate from the police academy without passing a physical fitness test as well as a written exam.
The intense physical conditioning program you’ll face at police academy will be much easier if you get in the habit of working out every day beforehand. Strength is important, but cardio training may be even more so. Running every day is one of the best ways to improve your cardio, and it will make the runs you’ll do at the police academy much more manageable. If you aren’t quite sure how to get into police academy shape, I’d start by looking over a law enforcement specific workout guide.
2. GET TO KNOW YOUR CLASSMATES:
Teamwork is an important part of any law enforcement career, and it’ll also help you complete police academy training. If possible, try to get in touch with some of your classmates before the program begins. Once the academy session begins don’t try to ‘go it alone’–call or get together with your classmates to compare notes and help each other deal with the training process. Not only will this make things easier for you but good teamwork between classmates creates a better environment for everybody.
3. GET SOME PRACTICE WITH FIREARMS:
Firearms skills are essential to graduating from the police academy. It is the testing of this skill that results in the most people leaving the training program before completion. In much the same way that you want to be in good physical shape before the police academy starts you want to be comfortable with both handguns and shotguns. There will be some training with guns at the academy, but firearm skills carry such importance that you’ll have a much better chance if you start on your own.
4. GET YOURSELF ORGANIZED:
There will be a lot going on once you get to the police academy and much of it will be ‘time sensitive’. There will be assignments to complete and paperwork to turn in by a deadline. It’s much easier to stay organized if you start setting up a framework before your training program begins. It’s a good idea to get a planning calendar and start using it before orientation. Make checking it a daily habit and start writing down anything you need to remember. In some cases, forgetting an important piece of paperwork can get you booted from the academy so make sure you’re well organized before you start.
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ONLINE RESOURCES:
There are a number of websites and online communities for law enforcement officers of every level including police academy trainees. Participation in this type of community is a great way to extend your ‘network’ beyond your classmates. Most members of this type of community are happy to share their experiences and answer questions. In addition, there are plenty of other online resources that might be helpful in your training. Many websites and communities have file archives with helpful information such as study guides and similar educational resources.
6. GET YOURSELF FOCUSED AND ELIMINATE OUTSIDE STRESS:
Police academy is stressful enough. For that reason, make sure to get as much of your ‘outside life’ in order to make things as ‘distraction free’ as possible during your training. This tip might be the most crucial element for your police academy success. You want to be able to focus completely on your training so make everything else in life as stable and routine as possible before your program begins.
The most successful police academy trainees are the ones who immerse themselves in the process of learning to become a law enforcement officer. To the greatest extent possible, make it your 24/7 commitment during the entire time of your training program. You’ll not only have an easier time completing police academy training, but will have a better grasp on the concepts that are crucial to your law enforcement career. So get everything else in your life dealt with to eliminate stress and once the police academy starts dive in with both feet.