Music and Police Academies

A bit of nice listening to get you amped up for the work day. I present to you, Space Truckin’ by Deep Purple:

I personally love the early metal of the 60s and 70s, stuff like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. They symbolize what Ozzy Osborne said as “music for the working man, its simple…”, which, it really is simple compared to some of the stuff of today. And when there is something a little out there, like the triplets “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” with the upstrumming from the lead guitar, it really gets the heart going and the head moving.

Anyway, enough with music. Antis often say LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers, a.k.a. cops or police officers) should be the only people to carry and use firearms. Now, to become a LEO, there are several restrictions and guidelines you have to meet first. Now, these are the absolute minimum you have to meet. There can be more depending on how you want to complete the Academy, but more on that later on.

First, you must not be a felon, have a Class A misdemeanor, a Class B misdemeanor within the last 10 years, or have a history of violence, meaning you can’t have a bunch of charges (whether dropped or not) of like domestic violence, assault, etc.

Second, you must have a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED with 12 hours of college credit from an accredited college or university.

Third, you must be able to pass a basic physical (like a doctor’s physical, not a PT test) and a drug screen.

Now, as I said earlier, there are several ways you can complete the Academy. The first way, is through a large department that offers their own Academy, like Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio. To get into one of those Academies, there are a lot of steps you have to complete. These vary from department to department, but are largely the same. In addition to the above basic minimum,

  1. You take a test to rank yourself against the others applying. It’s a simple service exam, and is a little different from department to department. If you have 2 years of active military experience, you get +5 points OR if you have 2 years of police experience as a certified Peace Officer (Corrections doesn’t count as experience), you get +5 points. Note, points don’t stack, so if you’ve done both, you only get 5 points. Generally, 70 is passing and you will go on to the next phase. If you get below a 70, you will have to wait and test again.
  2. Once you’ve passed, it’s on to the background check. Now, background checks are very, VERY thorough. A Background Investigator (BI) I talked to said he would take my 5 friend (non-relative) references and visit them, or if they were too far away, call them. Then he’d asked those references for names and numbers of other people who know me well, and call and talk to those people. He’d visit my previous places of employment, talk to not only my former boss, but co-workers too. He said one time, he actually sat outside of a building for a work shift to end, and when it ended, he walked around the parking lot showing the guy’s picture to workers asking if they knew them. He’d visit or call previous landlords and apartment managers, visit neighbors, etc. When I applied to the San Marcos Police Department, the Background Investigation document I had to fill out was a whopping 68 pages long.
  3. If you pass the Background check, then you go through a physical fitness test. For some odd reason, most departments like to use some form of the Cooper Standards. The Cooper standards rank you based on stuff like 1.5 mile timed run, 300 meter timed run, push ups in a minute, sit ups in a minute, vertical jump height. I say odd, because they really aren’t a true measure of how fit someone is. I was in great shape during the Academy, but I always had trouble doing the 1.5 mile run, since I’m not built to be a long distance runner.
  4. Once you past the physical fitness test, then you go through a series of interviews with a bunch of different admin types, and then polygraph or two.
  5. Once you’ve done that, you go through a psychological evaluation. In Texas, this is the MMPI-2 (which stands for Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory). I’ve taken one, actually am fixing to take it again, and let me say, it sucks. In a nutshell, its 100 questions repeated 4 times, giving you a total of 400 questions to answer. To answer a question, it’s a simple “True or False”. To make it even more painful, it’s questions like “I enjoy arranging flowers.” and “I seldom worry about my health.” So, with “I enjoy arranging flowers.”, you may see it again as “I enjoy making floral arrangements.” and “I take delight in gardening.”
  6. After that, if you’ve passed everything and your interview went well, you may get a job offer. Basically, this says the city is interested in you and is hiring you. Once that is done, then you are given a start date for the Academy.

Sounds painful right? Well, to make things even more interesting, you can be dropped at any point in the above process. Meaning, even if you complete the process, the city doesn’t have to give you a job. The plus side of completing the Academy this way is since you are employed by the city, your actually being paid to go through the Academy. And since you are being paid to go through the Academy, your guaranteed a job when you graduate. Also, these kind of Academies can be shorter, sometimes as much as a month shorter. The downside is it can take a while between the initial testing and you starting the Academy, sometimes it’s months, sometimes it’s a year or longer, and you get less training hours (more later).

Now, that’s one way of completing the Academy. Another way, which is the way I originally started, is self-sponsoring through a COG Academy. COG stands for Council of Governments. Basically, a group of counties in an area band together and offer training for various fields, help counties help each other out, that sort of thing. Self-sponsor means you pay for it yourself. The county I live in is apart of CAPCOG, which stands for Capital Area Council of Governments, which includes counties like Hays, Travis, Williamson, etc. I believe there are a total of 10 counties in the CAPCOG area. One kind of training that is offered at most COGs is a Basic Peace Officer Certification. Basically, upon completion of the course and passing the TCLEOSE test, you will be a licensed Basic Peace Officer (but not sworn!!! and yes, there is a difference). Entrance into a COG Academy is much easier than getting into an Academy held by a city, and varies from COG to COG. In addition to the originally listed minimum:

  1. Take and pass the entrance exam.
  2. Complete an MMPI-2 psychological evaluation (description for this is listed above)
  3. Some form of physical fitness test, usually the aforementioned Cooper standards.
  4. A background check through various government bodies, showing you meet the First minimum requirement.

After you’ve completed all that, you pay your tuition (normally around $1500, but can be as high as $2000), and your accepted. Self-sponsoring through a COG Academy is not cheap. Generally, you have to pay tuition, cost of your uniforms, cost of ammunition, cost of duty gear, and cost of a pistol. All in all, you’re looking at around $3000. To top it off, you aren’t getting paid to go through the Academy. So, downsides are expensive, longer (normally they take about 6 months), and when you graduate, you don’t have a job. That means, you’ll have to go out and interview and all that jazz and hope for a job. On the plus side, you get more training hours, most COG Academies have some kind of job placement to help you find a job, and it’s a more relaxed, college type environment.

The last way to complete the Academy is through sponsorship. Sponsorship is when a police department pays your way through a COG Academy. You get the training from a COG Academy and the job security and awesomeness of getting paid to go through the Academy. It’s simply the best of both worlds. The problem with this, is it’s very rare to find a police department that does this. The large departments require you to go through their Academy, and smaller departments just require you have to a peace officer certification first.

I talked about training hours, and wanted to explain this more in detail. The minimum number of hours of training TCLEOSE says you must have to become a peace officer in Texas is 625. With large departments that do their own Academy, you only get around 650-700 hours of training. With COG Academies, you’ll get 1000+. Why does the number of training hours matter? Well, you have different levels of peace officer certification, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, and Master. To advance in certification, you must have X number of years of service and Y number of hours of training. The more hours of training you have, the less years of service you must have. The more years of service you have, the less hours of training you must have. For instance, with 2 years of service and 1100 hours of training, one would qualify as an Intermediate Peace Officer. The more base number of hourse of training you have, the easier it is to get the more advanced certification.

Now that your in the Academy, it’s time for firearm training. A majority of the time, firearms training is a basic firearms class to teach you how to hold, aim, and fire a firearm. There isn’t any scenario based “shoot-don’t shoot” training. At the most, you may be shown a video or a slideshow on the basics of when to shoot and when not to shoot.

Now, back to the base point. Once you’ve graduated through an Academy, gotten your certification, been hired by a department, and sworn in, your now a police officer. It’s really that simple. Scary isn’t it?


One Response to “Music and Police Academies”

  1. […] on the process. He recently wrote a 2 part article on the requirements to get into the academy. Part 1, Part 2. It’s a little long, but it has to be to provide the proper […]

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