COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The 70th Recruit Class for the Colorado Springs Police Department is about to graduate, bringing 60 new officers to the force.
During the more than 25 weeks of the Police Training Academy, recruits are taught a variety of skills and topics.
“We start them out with the basics,” said Lt. Korey Hutchison, director of the academy. “The first week of the academy we go over the Constitution.”
More than 100 hours are spent just on arrest control, a skill these new officers are guaranteed to need.
“We go through basic handcuffing, how to do that safely, how to approach a person who may be unpredictable when you gain control of them,” said Officer Cassidy Harvell, a staff instructor at the academy. “We are required by Colorado POST to teach 62 hours. We here at CSPD teach over 100 hours of arrest control. We want to make sure that our police recruits when they graduate and they go out on the road are very prepared to handle confrontation.”
Harvell said effecting an arrest is one of the most dangerous things a police officer does on the job, and these new recruits have to be prepared for anything that can happen.
“You just don’t know what you’re getting when you approach someone,” Harvell said.
She said recruits are taught FBI defensive tactics and to use the least amount of force necessary to gain control of the situation.
“De-escalation is incredibly important and we do talk about that quite a bit here in the academy, that when you’re in a violent confrontation, or even just a verbal confrontation with somebody, starting off trying to verbally de-escalate the situation the best you possibly can,” she said.
Another skill these recruits are guaranteed to use is driving, and more than 50 hours are spent on that in the academy.
“We do 14 hours of lecture, which includes the basic dynamics of vehicles, conditions, psychological, physiological factors that affect that, gravity, all different kinds of topics that go with driving,” said Tracey Thompson, the lead driving instructor at the academy. “We then go out to the track for practical school.”
Out on the track, the recruits go through multiple stations that teach them the proper way to steer, brake, turn and more. They’re also taught to multitask and make quick decisions.
Thompson said driving is the number one liability in law enforcement because officers spend most of their time behind the wheel.
“The law enforcement driving focuses on getting you comfortable behind the wheel and also learning to multitask, concentrate on the road, driving tactics, that you learn out on the practical and in the lectures so that you’re a successful driver and you can avoid accidents,” Thompson said.
Because if the officers don’t make it to the call, neither does help.
Thompson said the public can play a big role in helping make sure everyone gets to where they need to safely.
“Pay attention to your surroundings, make sure that if you do see those lights and sirens, don’t think you can get through maybe an intersection before they can make it,” Thompson said. “Slow down, stop if you need to, safely pull over to the side, and make sure there’s enough room for us to get by.”
The 70th Recruit Class graduates Thursday.