‘Guardians of Society’ Quarantine Together, Forge Through Training at Police Academy

By Stephen Owsinski

With all the surreal stipulations stemming from the pandemic and its inherent quarantine, ever wonder how our nation’s police academies are managing to train our newest law enforcement officers?

From a social distance, the National Police Association took a virtual tour of a few police academies around the nation, from completely online instruction to the totally traditional method of residing on the barracks for police training.

The latter of the two is not only fascinating but the truest testament to living the dream and making it happen—like most cops have done for decades. This law enforcement writer had the police career notion at age five and, despite a persistent hankering with cancer woes, made it happen…eventually. The point is, most aspiring LEOs take on and surpass seemingly insurmountable odds to see a police career come to fruition.

A current class of cadets at the Vermont Police Academy is a prime example of fortitude and focus, especially while our beloved country is hampered with a pandemic. Along with their instructors and staff, this fine group of current and future warriors amended the traditional expectations by submitting to 100 percent academy life, away from their loved ones, bunking and enduring the rigors of police training together. No furloughs to go home. No quick trips to a local 7-Eleven or whatever. From dawn to dusk and in between, these cadets are 24/7 students, a concept quite close to reality indoctrinating these eventual graduates for when they hit the streets as full-fledged cops.

As the Vermont Police Academy framed their model under trying times, hardships are one of the many acceptances of these young recruits: “During these most unusual times when we as a community, state, country, and world are having to make sacrifices for the greater good, there are often unsung heroes that volunteer for additional hardships,” explained the academy bulletin.

When you consider and boil down that statement, it amounts to literal strangers getting prepped to do unspeakable and life-threatening work just for folks like you and me. And they are doing so while away from everyone and everything they know—like leaving life behind while working on a new one.

A spokesperson for the Vermont Police Academy said each and every recruit in the current in-training class “volunteered to quarantine away from their families and away from their lives in an attempt to provide the next generation of law enforcement with the tools needed to be ‘Guardians of Society.’”

This entire pandemic has quite successfully upended the tables at which we had become accustomed to living our respective lives. By necessity, much will change; hopefully much of it will be for the better.

This evolution we are witnessing surely does have impacts on human existence: sources and customs and routines and habits have had to take a backburner (or be erased altogether) while critical thinking skills were swiftly honed and put to good use after agreeing there existed sound principles for new ways and means to be employed with relative efficacy.

When the world is sort of shaken like a snow globe, things eventually settle—maybe not the way things were prior…but conducive enough. Unprecedented times like these call for desperate measures. In the case we are discussing, the Vermont Police Academy cadets set out running before the starting gun was discharged. Much factors into being found eligible after mounds of paperwork is perfectly packaged for qualification. These fine young future cops embrace the sheer fact that the primary people for whom they are making sacrifices must be left behind for a stint.

Although not to this utmost level, the only relative experience I had as a LEO was when Florida’s lovely hurricanes plow through, leaving destruction, no electric power, scant resources, and sacrifices by every single first responders. By order of the police chief and city government proclamations, all cops were made to live in city-owned facilities and on-call for 24-hour blocks without the liberty to go home to loved ones. Thus part of the hardships to which Vermont Police Academy administrators refer is the emotional sway from knowing dearly-loved heartbeats at home are on their own for a while—hard truth born of a life in police culture, especially for those who are new parents.

These factors give rise to coping skills; a necessity for successfully working the beat laden with a pandora’s box of problems.

Whether any of these Vermont police cadets have it or not, experience in the military will help offset the immense sacrifices; barracks life and customs parallel this police academy model. For those whose life experience does not afford easily adapting to such a situation, that is where camaraderie transcends, with the dividend being team cohesion and survival at all costs.

As a VPA administrator said, the police cadets “remain in physical isolation from their loved ones to offer us, the community, the resources and response we require to protect those in need during these times.”

Indeed, these unprecedented times require novel ways to abstain from novel coronavirus while attaining skills to save and/or enhance lives, including their own. In this regard, the academy program is only effective by virtue of successfully testing each cadet and subjecting the entire unaffected group to quarantine…until graduation at the end of May. For now, this class of police cadets stand in formation through some snowfall. For comparison, in my area the police academies are strictly online while the sun warms the mostly unpopulated outdoors.

Per the VPA, “A career in law enforcement is a difficult one, but it is also continuously rewarding to be able to help others when they are at their most vulnerable.” And right now, Earth’s inhabitants are most vulnerable. Perhaps this is what Edmund Hilary had on his mind when he said, “People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.” And blue courage will fuel that mindset.

In honor of those who have fallen and these future cops who selflessly forge forward to fill duty boots with brave and courageous souls, we salute you and your loved ones.

 

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