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  • 9th Week of FTO and I have some problems...

    I'm in FTO in a city in California and my main problem is knowing what to do at certain situations. Can I cite and release, can I arrest? I have a Penal Code EZ Guide that tells me which crime is a misdemeanor and which is a felony. But in the heat of things it looks so bad to tell my FTO to watch everything, go back to the car, open the EZ guide, look up the crime and see if the elements exist, and make the decision on what I'm going to do.

    I know in policing, a lot of things are up to the officer's discretion and there are many ways to handle the same call. I try to ensure safety is #1 for me, my FTO, and for the people involved at the scene. But coming to a conclusion on what to do is rather difficult. Is this something that will come to me in time? I heard that eventually all runs will "almost" be the same to an officer, but with different variables which is what makes each run potentially dangerous. It's my 9th week and I still don't feel confident in anything other than taking cold reports.

    The final 5 weeks of FTO are coming up and frankly, I'm scared as hell because these 5 weeks are basically me running solo with an FTO evalulating only unless I get stuck on a run I haven't encountered before.

    Do any other officers out there feel the same when they were going through FTO? Does anyone have any tips that they think can help me? Thanks, and stay safe!
    Last edited by tachyon126; 11-18-2008, 06:19 AM.

  • #2
    First, let me correct you on something: "FTO" stands for Field Training Officer. You are not an FTO. You are in FIELD TRAINING. Your FTO trains you. That aside, you need to study your department policies with respect to may and shall.

    Most agencies permit cite and release for all infractions; cite and release for many misdemeanors and shall arrest for all observed felonies.

    Officer discretion is in the picture based on his/her knowledge of the incident and the PC available to justify the action taken. It takes a little time to understand your agency and its internal operations. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your FTO - that is why they are there, to help you learn.

    When you get out on your own, your beat partners will also be willing to help you understand and make decisions. Rely on their assistance if necessary.

    My best suggestion is to study your academy notes, departmental policy and procedures manual and discuss, open mindedly, your apprehension with your training officer.

    You will do fine - don't fret too much on too many things. Just go out, have fun and be the best that you can be.
    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

    [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

    Comment


    • #3
      Allow me to offer some constructive criticism. As an FTO I have to say that I am a bit concerned that after attending police academy and in the 9th week of FTO that you don't know the basic principle of the job. Which is when to arrest and not arrest. In Ohio we have custodial and non custodial arrest. Any summons is an arrest i.e. cite and release(even a traffic citation). I don't know how the law's in California breakdown, but this is my rule of thumb in Ohio.
      FELONY = RIDE
      MISDEMEANOR 1 OR 2 = RIDE
      MISDEMEANOR 3 OR 4 = CITE AND RELEASE UNLESS A DANGER TO SELF AND/OR OTHERS, OR BEING A JACK&$$.
      MISDEMEANOR 5 OR MINOR MISDEMEANOR = CITE AND RELEASE.

      Multiple offenses gets you a ride also. Here is a suggestion. Once it is clear to you that a law has been broken, there is no harm in taking a person into custody or detaining them with the irons. Once they are in custody or detained you can then check your sheet and decide if you want to cite and release or give them the ride. Don't be afraid to ask other officers (preferably veteran) for assistance with making decisions as well. That is what they are there for. As you gain experience things should get easier for you. Good luck to you.
      Last edited by BC1260; 11-18-2008, 07:52 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Wow, where to start with that one. This is from Texas so California may be different.

        First you need to look at each call separately and not worry about the next one until you actually get it. I feel that you are probably second guessing yourself more than you need to.

        In Texas there are two situations officers have no choice but to place a suspect in jail. An officer must arrest for domestic violence if an assault occurred. This includes a minor push etc. And an officer must arrest for violation of a protective order. (With every rule there will be exceptions but in these cases they will be few and far between and you better be able to justify your decision.) Find out where you have no choice in your state and abide by it.

        In Texas we have Class C offenses. It includes 99 % of traffic violations, theft and criminal mischief under $50.00, nuisance crimes like public intox, urinating in public, loud noise etc. Most Class C’s can be cited or an officer may arrest. I believe most times an officer should write the ticket. Of course PI goes to jail due to suspect’ safety. So know your Class Cs and cite not arrest if possible. Anything above a Class-C its jail. No choice.

        I know you know the major stuff like dope, guns, murder, sexual assault etc so I won’t go there. I’m sure you are questioning yourself on the smaller stuff so ask yourself this when making the decision. “If I cite, release, or simply remove the person in question, will the situation be resolved? Will all parties be happy? Do I need to put this person in jail to solve this problem?”

        The point here being a good officer will solve the problem by arrest, a great officer can solve the same situation without having to put someone in jail. This takes longer, you have to be willing to listen as well as give good workable advice etc. But don’t make the mistake of clearing the call without making the arrest if your just gonna be back at the location 20 minutes later dealing with the same problem. If that’s going to be the case make the arrest. (Hint: if alcohol is involved you will probably be back.)

        Traffic is where it may get fuzzy, but remember you generally cite people for traffic, jail is usually for DUI’s. Unless your riding with someone that has a hard-on for traffic and puts everyone in jail for no drivers license, no insurance etc. it’s just a cite. Know your trainer.

        In a nutshell - if they are bad guys, gangsters etc they go to jail if you can put them there. If they are a working Joe trying to get by and make a minor mistake you cite, if you can. When questioned by your trainer tell them, “I wrote and released him because he had no criminal history, works 40 hours a week, I felt like he’s generally a good guy and just made a bad decision etc.” Just talk to your FTO about what you’re doing. “I let him go because,,,,I put him in jail because,,,”


        If you run your calls thinking that jail is for criminals and that it's the last resort not the first one, you should be OK.
        Originally posted by ISPY4U2
        Tex, if I'm ever in the Lone Star state, which is unlikely unless I'm being held prisoner against my will by separatist extremists, remind me to buy you a beer. You make more sense every post.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SgtCHP View Post
          you need to study your department policies with respect to may and shall.

          Most agencies permit cite and release for all infractions; cite and release for many misdemeanors and shall arrest for all observed felonies.

          Officer discretion is in the picture based on his/her knowledge of the incident and the PC available to justify the action taken. It takes a little time to understand your agency and its internal operations. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your FTO - that is why they are there, to help you learn.

          When you get out on your own, your beat partners will also be willing to help you understand and make decisions. Rely on their assistance if necessary.

          My best suggestion is to study your academy notes, departmental policy and procedures manual and discuss, open mindedly, your apprehension with your training officer.

          You will do fine - don't fret too much on too many things. Just go out, have fun and be the best that you can be.
          I agree with SgtCHP's statement. For those not in CA, CA doesn't have degrees of Misdemeanors, etc. like Texas and other states. You have Felony, Misdemeanor and Infractions (most traffic offenses). For the most part you can cite and release on Misdemeanors and Infractions unless the officer thinks there is a reason to book the suspect. This is where you need to speak up and talk with your FTO to get a better feel for the Dept. policy and his/her experience.

          My guess is that when you are first on your own you will book a lot more people than you will 1, 5 and 10 years later and then cite and release will be your friend. Drunks will generally get booked because of the potential liability of letting them walk away. Another big difference I've noticed between TX and CA is that in CA (at least No. Cal.) you book prisoners into the county jail which takes a little effort and isn't generally located in the town where you work, vs. Texas (and other states) where each dept. (no matter how small) has their own jail so it makes booking rather easy.

          Don't worry about this part so much, it will come with experience and remember for the most part it is officer discretion.
          David Bailey Photography | Bailey Tactical

          sigpic

          "Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor satan shudders and says oh hell he's awake!"

          Comment


          • #6
            Let me address one of your statements....... You dont need to have your FTO watch everything while you run back to the car to check your cheat sheets. If someone is under arrest wether it be cite and release or ride to jail then they are under arrest so transfer them to the back seat of your caged unit. Great place to let them sit while you work out the details. Once there it becomes pretty simple you just need to learn what your area jail will take ( get a copy of your counties bail schedule as it will tell you what misdemeanors they will book), what your department wants you to do (some watch commanders may not want you out of the field for a misdemeanor and some will so get to know who you are working for, etc.

            Most misdemeanors except DV, weapons, are cite and release.

            All felonies go to jail.

            Comment


            • #7
              One problem I see here, and I could be wrong, is you not making a decision. You seem to be wanting to much re assurance from your FTO. I always tell my new officers to make a decision. Be it a wrong decision or a good one, it shows your ability to think. Should they make a completely bad decision, I will stop it before damage is done, but at least you will learn.

              Bottom line is, If the boys and girls are being naughty, hook em, place them in the car, figure out what you are gonna do, and then do it.

              Worrying about doing a good job is great though. Shows that you care about the job and are concerned. Cocky and not sure about your decisions leads to someone getting hurt.
              Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.

              Comment


              • #8
                just relax and take a deep breath.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Officer Discretion is your best friend. It's YOUR call, but you HAVE to know WHEN to arrest.
                  The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                  I Am the Sheepdog.


                  "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                  that we are all that stands between
                  the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SgtCHP View Post
                    First, let me correct you on something: "FTO" stands for Field Training Officer. You are not an FTO. You are in FIELD TRAINING. Your FTO trains you. That aside, you need to study your department policies with respect to may and shall.

                    Most agencies permit cite and release for all infractions; cite and release for many misdemeanors and shall arrest for all observed felonies.

                    Officer discretion is in the picture based on his/her knowledge of the incident and the PC available to justify the action taken. It takes a little time to understand your agency and its internal operations. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your FTO - that is why they are there, to help you learn.

                    When you get out on your own, your beat partners will also be willing to help you understand and make decisions. Rely on their assistance if necessary.

                    My best suggestion is to study your academy notes, departmental policy and procedures manual and discuss, open mindedly, your apprehension with your training officer.

                    You will do fine - don't fret too much on too many things. Just go out, have fun and be the best that you can be.
                    Prior to my retirement, I was an FTO Supervisor, and I've quoted CHP Sgt's reply for a reason. It says pretty much what i wanted to say to you as well. Having said that, I'm a little concerned that at week nine of your FTO training, you still haven't developed sufficient self confidence to be making more decisions in the field. Don't be afraid to ask your FTO questions. Answering questions is a major part of what he's out there for. So, to recap,and repeat advice you've already recieved: Study your Academy notes, become more familiar with your department policy. Study the difference between "may" and "Shall". Okay, try to relax, get as much as you can out of the FTO program. Ask questions. Best of luck.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You dont have to memorize your law book if that is what you are worried about. Most people KNOW when they are breaking the law..this is a principle of common sense....basic right from wrong. With that being said MOST cops should recognize when a wrong has been committed and act on it. Make the arrest and then find the section with the elements that fit and charge it. It might help you to read up on the laws on your downtime. Ive done it..Im one who tries to leave work at work..but late nights after work and I cant sleep Id brush up on a few things..which prob isnt a bad idea to do through out our careers.

                      As far as "catch and release" check your dept policy for any specifics. If there isnt then it is up to you. Id lock up all felony arrests. Other than that use your descretion. For example, say you lock up a trespass which here in NY it is a violation. The offender starts getting sh!&&y with the victim. Now because it is the lowest of the low charge am I going to release on a ticket? No..cuz this clown is gonna come right back and go after the original victim. Im gonna send him to jail because someone might get hurt if I dont. The simplicity of it...make sure you can articulate EVERY action you take. You didnt make the arrest cuz of a greater good..you took a violation to jail because of a greater good....basically you are in charge of your own actions. You do what you think is right and be prepared to answer up if the need arises.
                      And the road becomes my bride.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If your "in custody" is not going to make it through medical at Intake always CITE AND RELEASE... waiting for a bad guy to get worked on at the hospital is only fun for the first 2 hours...
                        ...Did you call the Boys in Blue or the Man in Tan?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tachyon126 View Post
                          I'm in FTO in a city in California and my main problem is knowing what to do at certain situations. Can I cite and release, can I arrest? I have a Penal Code EZ Guide that tells me which crime is a misdemeanor and which is a felony. But in the heat of things it looks so bad to tell my FTO to watch everything, go back to the car, open the EZ guide, look up the crime and see if the elements exist, and make the decision on what I'm going to do.

                          Is this something that will come to me in time? I heard that eventually all runs will "almost" be the same to an officer, but with different variables which is what makes each run potentially dangerous. It's my 9th week and I still don't feel confident in anything other than taking cold reports.

                          The final 5 weeks of FTO are coming up and frankly, I'm scared as hell because these 5 weeks are basically me running solo with an FTO evalulating only unless I get stuck on a run I haven't encountered before.

                          Do any other officers out there feel the same when they were going through FTO? Does anyone have any tips that they think can help me?
                          My opinion is that for far too long, LEOs had it easy. The states/courts, have changed the way LEOs have to do their job. As such, new LEOs have best understand it is in their best interest to _memorize_ some things that before, one would come to memorize over-time. Your problem is that you need to study. It seems a lot of cops, especially newer ones, don't think there is a need to _study and memorize_ things, that the FTO process should take care of that. Well, that is no longer the case.

                          Here is the issue in my opinion: In Indiana alone we new have four law schools. This means that every year, around 200 new lawyers are being pumped out in Indiana alone. Some will ask "How does this affect me?" Well, in years past, we didn't get paid jack. Now most LE agencies in and around a major metro areas are actually making an OK wage. You are likely making enough money to have your wages garnished. Lawyers know this. I do predict more and more lawsuits against police officers in the future...these new lawyers have to make their money somewhere. It is in _your_ financial future to start thinking like a lawyer and studying like one. Yes, you do need to memorize the state laws you deal with most often. You need to have a decent grasp about new laws and those you don't really enforce that much. Department polices and procedures need to memorized and even though they were written by those riding desks for the last 10 years, follow them.

                          Stop waiting for these things to come to you in time and get into study/memorization mode _now_. As cops get paid more and more, you will find more and more governments/unions not backing officers who make a glaring mistake. If you screw up, your going to be paying some punk thug $5K-$20K. If that means $200 month for years, so be it. To me, the more we get paid, the more intelligence we had best display. If your one of those agencies where you are making near what a lower income lawyer makes (say $70K/year), then you had best at least be as intelligent as that lawyer...that means you should have study and memorization skills that shows that _you_ could have made it through the same law school that guy/girl did. Our dept. is a training ground for new officers (we have a program and due to lower benefits, we have a revolving door for full-timers). Sometimes I catch them because they say they are going to do x, y, or z. I basically play defense attorney and some of them really blow it. If they had made those decisions in real-life, they could easily get sued and since our agency doesn't always back people up, possibly fired. We even had a judge tell one defendant to sue our officer...yes, it happened. Yes the guy threatened to sue. To me, the complaint was iffy...had it gone to court, it could have went either way. That being said, the department offered a settlement before a lawsuit was even filed. The officer was spared because the department/government entity just wanted the thing over with and sided with the complainant.

                          Like I said before, get that manual and whatever it takes to memorize that stuff. You already see needing that manual as a crutch as a bad thing, so it is time to memorize it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dwntwn317 View Post
                            My opinion is that for far too long, LEOs had it easy. The states/courts, have changed the way LEOs have to do their job. As such, new LEOs have best understand it is in their best interest to _memorize_ some things that before, one would come to memorize over-time. Your problem is that you need to study. It seems a lot of cops, especially newer ones, don't think there is a need to _study and memorize_ things, that the FTO process should take care of that. Well, that is no longer the case.

                            Here is the issue in my opinion: In Indiana alone we new have four law schools. This means that every year, around 200 new lawyers are being pumped out in Indiana alone. Some will ask "How does this affect me?" Well, in years past, we didn't get paid jack. Now most LE agencies in and around a major metro areas are actually making an OK wage. You are likely making enough money to have your wages garnished. Lawyers know this. I do predict more and more lawsuits against police officers in the future...these new lawyers have to make their money somewhere. It is in _your_ financial future to start thinking like a lawyer and studying like one. Yes, you do need to memorize the state laws you deal with most often. You need to have a decent grasp about new laws and those you don't really enforce that much. Department polices and procedures need to memorized and even though they were written by those riding desks for the last 10 years, follow them.

                            Stop waiting for these things to come to you in time and get into study/memorization mode _now_. As cops get paid more and more, you will find more and more governments/unions not backing officers who make a glaring mistake. If you screw up, your going to be paying some punk thug $5K-$20K. If that means $200 month for years, so be it. To me, the more we get paid, the more intelligence we had best display. If your one of those agencies where you are making near what a lower income lawyer makes (say $70K/year), then you had best at least be as intelligent as that lawyer...that means you should have study and memorization skills that shows that _you_ could have made it through the same law school that guy/girl did. Our dept. is a training ground for new officers (we have a program and due to lower benefits, we have a revolving door for full-timers). Sometimes I catch them because they say they are going to do x, y, or z. I basically play defense attorney and some of them really blow it. If they had made those decisions in real-life, they could easily get sued and since our agency doesn't always back people up, possibly fired. We even had a judge tell one defendant to sue our officer...yes, it happened. Yes the guy threatened to sue. To me, the complaint was iffy...had it gone to court, it could have went either way. That being said, the department offered a settlement before a lawsuit was even filed. The officer was spared because the department/government entity just wanted the thing over with and sided with the complainant.

                            Like I said before, get that manual and whatever it takes to memorize that stuff. You already see needing that manual as a crutch as a bad thing, so it is time to memorize it.

                            You know what? This is the BEST post I've personally read on here in long time. Direct, to the point and right between the eyes.

                            Dwntwn, maybe it's because newer officers hear time and time again that the academy doesn't teach you anything....that once you get to FTO the first thing you're going to hear is, "Forget everything the academy taught you," etc.

                            I'm as green as can be when it comes to LE and guess what I do on my down time (whether it be in the john or just lying around)? I pick up my IVC book and my criminal procedure book and begin to read. I read not so much to memorize but to UNDERSTAND as well.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm new to all of this as well, but I was skimming the General Orders last night and ours are least are very clear on what is going on. I would ask, is it the power that you now have that you are finding intimidating? That you can/will change someones life with your decision?

                              Comment

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