Back to Basics: A 17-year law enforcement veteran goes back to basic training
June 3, 2022
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
This is my last blog until I start the academy in the fall, and I appreciate the great feedback that we have received from readers about the blog and the insight it has provided into the VBSO Basic Academy experience. I hope that when we pick back up again in the fall, you will continue this journey with me until the end.
My goal: Graduation!
I have a meeting today with my orthopedic doctor to see what the plan is for my knee. I am 99% sure I will need arthroscopic surgery for my meniscus tear. I am ready to get a game plan in place to fix my knee and prepare for the next academy! I am continuing to follow the “orders” of my physical therapist and do the strengthening exercises she prescribed. I can do some cycling on a spin bike with very little resistance (I really miss the heavy resistance, but I must be patient!), as well as walking at a decent pace. To help keep up my “academy” level upper body strength, I am still doing 100+ pushups a day in 25-rep increments during my workouts. I want to be ready to go in the fall!
This week’s edition is bittersweet. Last Friday we lost one of our recruits to KSA (knowledge-skills-abilities) week defensive tactics. The recruits get three attempts at variations of a scenario and must be successful by the third try to pass. Losing one of your classmates on the last day of training in the academy is tough for all parties involved. Everyone in the class is already stressed during the final week of skills assessment, and losing a teammate is difficult. The recruit is eligible to reapply for employment in six months if they want to try again.
We started with 22, and on Wednesday, 13 walked across the graduation stage.
During the graduation ceremony, I was so proud of what my classmates have achieved! I watched as 13 of my BAC 52-22 “family” walked proudly across the stage to accept their certificates of completion, shake hands with Sheriff Ken Stolle and have their photos taken. Their families and friends and VBSO coworkers and supervisors were on hand to celebrate their accomplishment.
It’s an accomplishment for the recruits’ families, too. During the last 17 weeks, they have experienced the pressures of the academy, and the pressures of having a loved one who works in law enforcement. The academy schedule is very structured, and families fill in the gaps when their recruit must be in class, study for tests or practice their skills for an evaluation. Coworkers also experience the loss of the recruit in the jail while they’re in the academy, and everyone works together to fill that void until the recruit returns as a certified deputy. Success is a team effort.
The Training staff gives out awards at the end of each academy based on the recruits’ performance. Our class president, Deputy Chris Snyder, received all but one of the class superlatives: Top Physical Fitness (based on having the top average score on all the LawFit assessments), Top Gun (best shooting scores), Top Defense Driver (best scores on the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course) and … drumroll, please … Top Academy Graduate! The final award, Top Academic Achievement, went to Deputy Eyan Ross, our Guide-On (or flag bearer), who had a GPA of 94.67.
You can watch the full ceremony, which was streamed live on Facebook, on the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office YouTube channel.
When I think back to where we all started, there were 22 of us. I remember the first day of class, and there were so many faces I had never seen before. Three of the recruits I had previously met briefly in Indoc, which is the initial employee “orientation” and basic training. Little did I know how well we would get to know each other over our weeks together in the academy, and the unique friendships that we would form. We truly became a family, despite our age differences, different life experience and personalities. It was a great experience to watch the different stages of group dynamics as we progressed through the academy: forming, storming, norming and performing. Pushups, burpees, suicide drills, wall squats and running drills have a unique way of bringing a group together as they commiserate through the “suck,” as my comrades would say. We formed a bond in blood, sweat, mud and tears.
As I had my picture taken with my class right before graduation, many of the graduates were talking about how, in a weird way, they were going to miss the academy. Not the “Field of Fun” or suicide drills, but the teamwork and camaraderie of our class. It meant the world to me when I was told that, no matter what, I’ll always be part of the 52-22 family.
Congratulations, recruits! I’ll be seeing you around.
And to our readers: see you real soon!
Photos by Public Information Officer Toni Guagenti