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Advice badly needed from all LE.


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  • Advice badly needed from all LE.

    My Predicament:

    I was hired by a small agency in an upscale town in CA right out of the Academy.

    Everything in the hiring process went smoothly. Even a minor integrity incident at the academy was adressed by the BI and the Poly. (Minor because it was a bogus misunderstanding).

    My new agency had a major shortage of FTO's. During the first phase (month) I had an FTO who was a gifted teacher but not very street savy. He made a sincere effort to make sure I understood the info he was imparting but did not even cover rudemintary policework. I passed with flying colors.

    On the first night of Phase 2 my new FTO turned to me and said "Don't take this personally, but I hate being an FTO and resent having to go out with you". This pretty much set the tone for that phase. That FTO was street savy but disinterested in teaching me much at all. He never covered all the material in the Training Book ("We'll get to that later") and spent more time in the station than on the streets. And yes, I was assertive in trying to get him in the vehicle but to no avail... Nevertheless, I became the first officer to ever pass a phase of FTO with him.

    Lucky me I had this same FTO for Phase 3. Same FTO, same problems. Except this time, I was instructed by him that he would give me no help, that everything had to be perfect, and that I was expected to do everything as well as a veteran officer. I was then given a shopping list of activities to perform every night ( 12 tickets, 5 parking tickets, 2 suspicious vehicles, 2 suspicious persons, etc - all while sitting in the station) or I got a 0 or 1 for initiative otherwise.

    If i made a mistake (God forbid), he beat that dead horse incessently for the next 4 weeks. It always seemed that I could do no right by him. I still managed to write numerous tickest, multiple deuces, 2 felony arrests, and so on.

    However, I had one MAJOR officer safety incident. I allowed a suspect to empty his pockets. He had a fake (lighter) shaped like a small handgun. My FTO freaked because I did not freak. I thought it was fake (does not matter) and let him continue with emptying his pockets while fingering my duty weapon. This has NEVER happened again - lesson learned.

    After awhile (Week 3 / Phase 3) I started to doubt in myself... I thought that they were putting me in this situation to test my ability to handle stress, only to find out that the left hand did not know what the right was doing.

    Needless to say, he failed me in Phase 3 but I got extended because the department thought my "potential" and "attitude" were excellent.

    I was a bit of a basket case by then, but within the first couple of hours with a new FTO I was told that "I see none of the issues that were in your previous D.R.'s".

    Of note: My D.R.'s (Daily, Weekly, & Monthly) were never given to me on time. They were back dated to the correct day, but given to me 3 days to a week later than the date listed. I would ask my FTO in phase 2 & 3 if there was anything I could work on, study, etc but got a mute response all times.

    Extension went very well, with little to no mistakes on a daily basis. Alot of my perishable skills had deteriorated (My fault for not keeping up with them during phase 3. When after 2 weeks I was told that I was to be extended longer, my heart sank and my confidence was shot. This seemed to come out of left field. I never did get a clear answer as to why.

    I resorted back to my end of phase three self and started making mistakes. (I would not hear my radio while talking to a suspect a couple of times, I put a suspect in bracelets and questioned them about incriminating info, put a deuce in the back of the patrol car without searching them).

    One night my FTO sat me down and "hinted" about resignation vs. termination. While he did not directly imply that I should do either, I was still in shock from the extension of extension, so I asked what the process would be to resign and would it affect my future in LE, etc..

    A few months later, (and back in the corporate world), alot of the training has gelled. I have done ride alongs with a number of agencies and realize that I have been bitten by the LE bug badly. I honestly cannot imagine not being involved in LE. I would even be a Reserve Officer (unpaid) just to pursue my passion. But...

    I was in background with a cool agency when my BI said I was dropped from consideration for "Dishonesty". He said that I implied that everything was fine with my previous agency ( Which I thought was true because my former Chief and last FTO strongly encouraged me to stay in LE and said they wish the other officers in the department had half of my passion for LE), and that I did not give him a heads up about the academy incident despite it being cleared.

    I really love and respect my former agency (even the disgruntled FTO - who has since transferred). I did not want to badmouth them at any interviews, so I never gave any interviewers and B.I.'s the full scoop for fear of being labled an "immature attitude problem who takes no responsibility for his actions". I have always owned up to all my mistakes and what I've done to correct them.

    So, am I screwed from working in LE again? Its been a couple of years and I can't stop thinking about being on the streets.

    Thank you all for your feedback,
    Bug Bitten.

  • #2
    I had a bug bite myself. I was 21 when it happened and I dont even wanna talk about it. But I got out of LE for 5 years. I finally got back into LE at a smaller deaprtment. I explained what happened and they laughed that a LE department would be so callous. There are some deparments that have a hiring process that requires you to be a flawless perfect angel and be superhuman. Some are lax. Find what you can live with and go after your passion. I waited 5 years before getting back on the horse, I know how it feels to have a LE Department crush you and make you feel like the biggest loser with no future in LE. Trust me someone, somewhere will hire you. Use that department as a foothold. Get more experience, training, and proficency and move up. Good luck


    • #3

      As a former FTO Supervisor, I can sympathize with your situation. No FTO should be in that position who does not want to be. The fact that your agency has FTO's who don't want the assignment, is one that should be addressed by the Chief/Command Staff of your agency. How much "noise" you make concerning the situation you've described, is up to you. I don't want to encourage to speak out too loudly, and then the department takes action against you. I wouldn't be much help to you them.


      • #4
        In my agency, FTO was a bonus position; 4% increase in pay and 2 stripes. The 12 FTO's had a say in who would BE an FTO (but admin always picks who they want). You should not have had the same FTO for 2 different phases, let alone phase 2 and phase 3. That said, I would get in somewhere as a reserve, probably a different agency. That's how I started my career. Once you're known, take the test for officer again and I'm sure you'll do well. It'll come up in your oral. Just describe what happened. Don't sound like you have a chip on your shoulder. Describe it like you did had some learning to do and you've learned.


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