COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Right now, 47 men and 13 women are preparing to become the newest Colorado Springs police officers.
They’ll hit the streets in just days, but it has taken them months to get to this point.
“A lot of people even say, or they’ll ask me, ‘why would you want to be a police officer now? Nobody likes cops.’ And I say, well then that’s the best opportunity in my opinion because it gives me the opportunity to affect change,” said recruit Robert McGee.
Lt. Korey Hutchison, the director of the police training academy, said applicants come from all over the country and only the best are selected.
“We look for people that want to serve the public, that have that need to serve, and understand that at some times the needs of the public are going to be more important than their personal needs,” he said.
With such stiff competition, Hutchison said applicants only have about a five to eight percent chance of getting hired.
“The hiring process here is far more rigorous than any that I have ever experienced in my life or heard of,” said McGee.
Once they are hired, the recruits still have to graduate the academy, which requires almost seven months of instruction and a variety of tests.
“We try to expose them to as many different types of experiences that we can here in the academy,” said Hutchison. “We send them down to the range to teach them how to shoot a firearm, we send them to driving training so they learn how to drive a cruiser safely, at the same time we’re teaching them about traffic laws so they know which laws they can enforce and also which laws they have to stay within.”
How many recruits are hired varies with each class, and the 70th Recruit Class is the largest one yet for CSPD.
“Because we needed them, because of attrition numbers, partly because of the mayor’s commitment two or three years ago to hire 120 extra police officers,” said Hutchison. “This was a big push to get closer to that number.”
McGee said there’s not a finer group of future officers.
“I can’t speak highly enough about them,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of community service officers, that were non-sworn officers prior to and then got hired on, we’ve got people fresh out of college, others who have had one, two, three careers previously, so it’s really a mixed bag all the way from younger to older and a little bit of everything.”
“I think that’s the best recruit base that you can have, because that’s our community and we want police officers to represent our community,” said Officer Trisha Clippinger, a staff instructor at the academy.
The 70th Recruit Class will graduate Thursday, and the recruits said they are ready to get out on the streets.
“Twenty-seven weeks a long time, but at the same time we need all the skills that we’re getting here so that we can be good officers,” said McGee. “But, I’m ready to get out, start helping people and get on my probation, which we still have 15 weeks of when we complete this course.”
Hutchinson said once the class graduates, the new officers will begin working right away, but they will be assigned to a training officer who will go out with them on every shift for several more weeks.