The First Day at the Police Academy

What Will Your First Day at the Police Academy Be Like?

Policy academy trainees lined up outside
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Starting out on a new career always brings mixed feelings. You're excited about learning new things and maybe a little scared of the unknown.  This is even more true for the thousands of police recruits across the country who report for their first day at the police academy, wondering all the while what it will be like.

Surviving Your First Day at the Police Academy

Whether you've spent the last 4 years in college earning your degree in criminal justice or the last 20 years in a military career, you'll never be fully ready for what the what the first day at the academy will bring.

If you're thinking about academy life or you're getting ready to start your training, here's some advice on how to survive day 1 as a police recruit.

The Police Academy Can Be Confusing

The first thing you need to know is that there will be yelling, and lots of it. When you report to the academy, you'll probably be greeted by a group of instructors who mean business.  

They will bark commands at lightning speed, and It will be easy to get confused and upset. Don't. Use your mind, think critically and act accordingly.

Find Your Military Bearing, Fast

More likely than not, you and your new academy classmates will be ordered to get into formation and to do it quickly. Inevitably, some of your fellow recruits will have some prior military experience and will respond immediately. Find the spot where everyone is forming up and fall in with them.

When you fall into formation, line up so that you're even with the person to your right, an arm's length away from them.

Immediately come to the position of attention, with your thumbs along the seams of your trousers, chin up, eyes forward and feet at a 45-degree angle.  

Don't  move from this position unless told to do so. Don't look around and don't move your hands or head. Most importantly, don't lock your knees; if you do, you'll faint.

Trust me.

If You're a Police Recruit, Plan On Being Wrong.  A Lot.

Understand that whatever you're doing, it's probably going to be wrong. Expect to get yelled at. When you do, take it all in stride and understand it for what it is: a way to gain control and instill discipline quickly, efficiently and effectively.

If you're asked why you did whatever it was that drew the instructor's attention to you, realize right now that there is no right answer. Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to talk back or try to explain yourself. Any answers you give should be short, sweet and to the point.

Make Sure to Use Your Manners

If you weren't raised in a home that required you to say "yes, sir" and "no, sir," then start getting used to saying it now. Officer's are taught to treat everyone they encounter with the utmost respect, and that starts with addressing them as "sir" or "ma'am." If you have trouble remembering to do this, don't worry; the instructors will be happy to remind you.

Be Ready to Meet the Police Academy Physical Fitness Requirements 

If you're not in shape now, you're going to want to get there quickly. Academy instructors will shout and yell, but they won't ever hit you. Instead, when one or more classmates screw up -- and rest assured, they will -- you can expect to be doing plenty of push-ups.

If your arms get too tired to hold you in the front-leaning-rest position, there's a solution to that as well.  After too many push ups, expect to end up on your back doing flutter kicks.  

These forms of physical exercise are a great way to instill both mental and physical discipline. They also teach you to push through pain and discomfort to accomplish a task. Even more importantly, they can help you survive a violent encounter once you get to the road.

Policing Means Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

It's not all about yelling, push-ups and leg lifts. There are important administrative matters that must be attended to, as well.

There will be plenty of forms to fill out and an introduction to the curriculum. You'll sign statements acknowledging that you've received your textbooks and that you are aware of what is expected of you.

Read everything carefully, because you'll be held accountable for them later.

Setting Yourself Up For Success at the Police Academy

Remember, the police academy instructors aren't there to scare you away or to hurt you. Their goal is to get you ready for the tough career ahead.  

A day in the life of a police officer takes endurance, discipline and a tough skin. Your first day at the academy is designed to set you up for success and to help you realize your full potential as a police officer.