Ten tips for law enforcement training success

What’s the best way to guarantee law enforcement training success? Here are ten tips to make your 12 to 14 week journey through policy academy smoother.

Law enforcement training is a lot like military basic training, so you need to get psychologically prepared before you start. Make up your mind that no matter how tough it gets, you’re going to hang in there until you graduate.  Mental attitude is about 90% of the test in meeting any worthwhile goal, so put on your game face and be prepared to meet the challenge.

Be prepared to meet the intellectual challenge of the classroom portion of your law enforcement training. Becoming a police officer is about more than just being able to subdue an unruly suspect or chase down a fleeing bank robber.  Because of the incidence of lawsuits against police departments, it’s more important than ever for officers to be versed in the laws they’re enforcing. They must also know the limits of what they can and cannot do, and be able to act accordingly in the heat of intense situations. For that reason, a large portion of your law enforcement training will take place in the classroom.

Get in shape before you go.  The physical demands of law enforcement training are intense, so the better shape you’re in from the get-go, the easier it will be for you to pass the test.  Start working out every day for at least a month before you begin training at the academy. Bench presses, sit-ups, leg presses and other muscle building exercises will prepare your body for the challenge.  Being in exceptional cardio shape is even more important because by the end of your training, you’ll be expected to undertake a six mile run. Start running every day and work up to as many miles as you can muster before your first day of training.

Get as much information as you can about your law enforcement training academy before you go.  Talk to people who’ve recently graduated to find out what’s going to be required of you.  Ask them for advice about how you can prepare beforehand and how to make the most of your training once you get there.  Find out if there are any pitfalls you can avoid.  The academy you’re attending will have resources such as study guides and checklists – take the time to get them well beforehand so you have more time to prepare.

Let your loved ones, friends and family know that you’re about to undergo the intense challenge of law enforcement training. Tell them that you’re going to be unavailable for the next ten to twelve weeks so you can devote yourself to meeting this important goal.  That means no partying, family gatherings or other extra-curricular activities. Ask for help if you need assistance covering things like pet care and housekeeping duties.

Study, study, study.  When classes and training is over, it’s time to hit the books.  You can party when law enforcement training is over, but while it’s on, devote yourself to making the best grades possible on tests.

Avoid outside stressors.  Don’t let family and relationship drama distract you from law enforcement training.  That means leaving phone messages and email unanswered so you can devote yourself to the most important task you’re likely to undertake when it comes to your future.  Let people know ahead of time that you’re unavailable for the duration. Don’t’ let anything distract you.

Teamwork is everything in law enforcement training.  Build relationships with your fellow recruits. Ask for help if you need it and be willing to help out, if help is needed.  Being a successful police officer isn’t about going it alone, it’s about developing relationships with your fellow officers.

When you’re in law enforcement training, be sure to arrive on time for all classes and exercises.  Make it a point to arrive either early or on time every day.  Tardiness labels you as being unreliable -- and reliability is paramount for a police officer. Don’t show up ten minutes late with excuses about traffic or some other ‘dog ate my homework’ story.  Nobody wants to hear it and it will count against you.

Relax.  It’s not rocket science.  Graduating from law enforcement training is perfectly within your capability.  Tell yourself that you can do it and envision yourself on graduation day getting ready to embark on your new career in law enforcement.

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