Week 15

Back to Basics: A 17-year law enforcement veteran goes back to basic training

May 20, 2022

I am at the end of my second week of physical therapy. I’m nearing normal range of motion for my knee, which is good news. I’m also building strength in the quadricep, glute and hip area of my injured leg, which should continue to help with my stability and balance, and prevent me from overcompensating with my other knee. The pain is still there, it clicks and pops a lot, and I have a bad feeling that is the meniscus tear rearing its ugly head. My physical therapist added many new exercises since last week, including bodyweight squats, wall sits, split squats and balance exercises, to name a few. I also get electric stimulation of my quadricep for 15 seconds, followed by a 10-second pause, repeated for 10 minutes, which is an uncomfortable, odd feeling, but it is necessary to keep my muscles firing in that leg. I have my follow-up doctor’s appointment in two weeks, where the final verdict will be decided: surgery or no surgery. I am pretty sure he'll still be leaning toward surgery, but I hope that can be avoided. However, I’m already mentally preparing for surgery, just in case. I want to get it over soon so I can be on the mend!

BAC52-22 gas masks
Recruits wearing their gas masks.

This week the recruits experienced the CS gas house at Fort Story. They donned their gas masks and tested the seal of their masks against the noxious gas. CS gas is used for crowd control and civil unrest situations and, similar to OC spray, irritates your eyes, skin and mucous membranes. While our goal is always to effect compliance without force, CS gas is an effective tool to disperse a riot or gain control of a combative inmate, and our deputies are exposed to it in training for two reasons. First, so that they know what it’s like to be sprayed. Second, it teaches them to push through the pain and still do their job if they’re exposed. This can happen, for example, if there’s blowback from the spray. The recruits supplemented this training with civil unrest and crowd-control training.

Recruits after the gas house
Two BAC52-22 recruits after going through the CS gas house.

The class also went through combat medic training, which showed them how to conduct emergency medical triage in the field. This is important if there’s a severe injury to a deputy, their partner or a member of the public and immediate medical treatment must be rendered to save their life. They were taught how to apply a tourniquet, dress wounds and perform other lifesaving measures to treat trauma victims. This is vital training during emergencies, such as shootings, when it may take time for an ambulance to arrive.

BAC52-22 LEO Memorial Service
Recruits and members of the VBSO at the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service.

On Wednesday, the recruits and other members of the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office attended the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony at the Oceanfront. Members of the Virginia Beach Police Department, VBSO, military and families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty gathered to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is a very somber moment to hear from the widows of officers killed in the line of duty, and it’s an experience that’s difficult to describe. It brings into sharp contrast the dangers of the job and the risks taken by our deputies and police officers every day to keep our city safe.

Recruits sit-ups
Recruits doing sit-ups during their final LawFit assessment.

I had the opportunity to photograph Basic Academy Class 52-22 during their final LawLit assessment on Monday. It was bittersweet as I watched them finish the various sections of the physical fitness test, and I wished I could be doing it with them. The group looked tight. Each recruit has improved throughout the academy, and some beat their initial run times by minutes! I am very proud of them, and I kept cheering them on during the run telling them it’s the LAST LawFit test and to push through it! Everyone seems a bit tired, but excited about graduation. They are taking care of some of the final administrative tasks, such as uniform fittings, preparation for the graduation ceremony on June 1, and getting ready for one of the hardest and most stressful parts of the VBSO Basic Academy: KSAs (knowledge-skills-abilities) next week.

During KSAs, all the training they have received will be put to the test. They will have scenarios that will challenge their academic and physical training to determine if they are ready to graduate and become certified deputies. After 15 weeks of training, you would think it should be a piece of cake. Not quite. The scenarios are difficult and challenge the recruits to think quickly on their feet and make split-second decisions, just like in real life. They know that just because they’ve made it this far, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll graduate. They must pass the KSAs to finish the academy. There have been recruits in the past who have failed KSA week and were let go. That may seem harsh, but we have to be absolutely certain that our deputies are ready to face the challenges of the job and make the right decisions, which can be life-or-death. I have faith that all my fellow classmates will think clearly, recall the information and tactics needed, and successfully complete the scenarios.

I’m excited to see them walk across the stage at graduation on June 1. I will keep you posted on their progress through the last full week of the academy. Just 12 days until graduation day! Keep up the good work, class 52-22!

Photos and videos by Public Information Officers Margie Hobbs and Toni Guagenti