The waiting’s over. I’ve got my little uniform. My little tactical boots are polished to a little sheen. The grooming standard1. has been complied with.
Class A, which started about eight weeks before ours, has about 23 people. My class, class 1, has 27 at the moment. Class A is already used to all this, has been issued their gun belts and gone through a bunch of training; they have a class Lieutenant and corporals, and generally look pretty tight as a group. I have to say that they’re pretty magnanimous and haven’t yet treated us like a bunch of newbies. In fact, the overall atmosphere is extremely professional, courteous and they’re really going out of their way to help us out whenever they can.
I’m going to say this now, and I challenge myself to dispute it later. During the first week we met a handful of faculty and administrators. Regardless of my other opinions of any of them, I experienced each one as absolutely and genuinely passionate about what they do. These are seriously dedicated people, all of whom are practicing police officers, some of them also firefighters. The academy director is extremely innovative – just look around at the facility (see below) if you want proof – and patently loves his job.
“There are three things you can do that are unrecoverable: You lie. You cheat. You steal. Everything else can be worked out. None of those can. They are unrecoverable. If you’re here on a power trip, leave now. If you’re here to get rich, there’s the door. If you’re here to pursue a career in law enforcement I can tell you that there’s no better, more rewarding career in the world.”
Like that. And he means it, truly. He and several other instructors say the thing I’ve heard most great cops say: “On most days in this job, I think to myself that I cannot believe that I actually get paid to do this.” I don’t care what it is, I like people who love their jobs.
It becomes clear that one of the highly transparent strategies to force us into teamwork is to frequently bust our balls about fairly meaningless rubbish. This is totally fine with me – I’ve signed up for it and actually think it’s quite fun playing soldier. I actually love the PT, running and shouting cadence – even kind of silly cadences. If they want me to spend my time like this, the 17 weeks will go quickly – to me this is just like being a teenager playing Marine, but we get cooler toys.
Like, no shit, a computer-controlled, live-burn disaster city with landscaped residential streets, homes, businesses, an apartment/hotel complex, a warehouse with an 18-wheeler backed up to a loading dock (all burnable via propane or natural gas fed with computerized controls that do things like not go out until the fire guys put the correct volume of water on the flames), a controlled swiftwater rescue area, and a trench-rescue/confined-space simulation area. Oh, and tipped over railway tankers, luxury coaches (buses) and airplanes for hostage scenarios, a world-class professional driving track, a seriously awesome indoor/outdoor firearms range…It’s absolutely awesome – far exceeding my expectations.
So if these guys want to try and humiliate me by having me stand at attention and march and shout cadence and polish my tactical boots? Bring it.
1. The Grooming Standard at the Academy is, no fooling, a big deal. They’re big on formal and informal inspections, and while most of us are doing perfectly well, I did hear a conversation like this yesterday:
“Shorten those sideburns, cadet.”
“Sorry, sir, I thought I was good to go.”
“Bottom ear HOLE, cadet, not bottom of the ear.”
“Oooohhhh, sorry sir.”
Yeah. Not quite as arbitrary as it was on Generation Kill, but equally amusing:
SIXTA: “Jesus Chrast! What is you, some kind of goddamn hippie faggot?! Fuck is this? Damn it all. Why the fuck is your shirt out of regulation?”
ICEMAN: “Sergeant Major, is there a problem? My Marines have been working on that Humvee all morning.”
SIXTA: “I don’t care if your Marine has a sucking chest wound! He will not traipse around on the deck with his shirttails hanging out! Might just NJP all your asses!”