Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Road to Reserves - Firearms Classroom & Range 1

While watching the Oscars Sunday night, I heard a quote from the movie Whiplash. “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’.”

I don’t wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, but hearing it was timely. I spent a lot of time this week thinking about constructive criticism and the impact of challenging training on attitude and performance. 

I ended Saturday’s class feeling proud of how often I heard the words “good job” at the range, but I’ll be going into this week’s classes with a slightly different mindset.

Class 19 – Firearms Classroom 1

Tuesday night, we met the Beaverton Police Department sergeant who will be heading up our firearms training for the next seven weeks. We were all issued our duty pistols, housed safely in their hard cases.

The gun we are issued is dependent on the size of our hands. Out of three possible models, I was issued a 9mm Glock 17 Generation 4 pistol.

My classmates had a wide range of prior experience with firearms, so we started with the basics and proceeded through a firearms training manual very slowly.  I own a pistol and have some experience shooting, but I still appreciated working from the ground up.

We began with the most important components we will see in our firearms training: the four cardinal safety rules. We will be quizzed on these safety rules each time we handle our firearms.
  1. Consider all guns to be loaded at all times.
  2. Keep the muzzle pointed away from any person or thing you are not willing and legally justified to shoot.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.
Please note that gun safety at home is equally important, especially if you have children. I purchased a small biometric gun safe to house both my personal and duty pistols and have instructed my daughter about staying away from firearms.

Remember, even if you don’t have any firearms in your house, your child may encounter them at a friend or relative’s home.  Learn more about keeping your children safe around guns by clicking here.

If you own a firearm and need a free gun lock, stop by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Concealed Handgun Unit between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

A recap of our use of force authority was also included. As we’ve seen in the past, many of our main training topics build on one another. The use of force protocols and guiding case law we previously covered are especially pertinent to our firearms training.

After being instructed to slowly and safely remove our pistols from their cases and set them on the table in front of us, we learned how to confirm a gun is unloaded. 

This involves keeping your finger off the trigger at all times while removing the magazine, racking the slide to eject any rounds that may be in the chamber, visually and physically inspecting the firearm to confirm it is empty, and having a neighbor do the same. 

Systematically performing this same quadruple check every time we unload our firearm will help us avoid a potentially deadly error.

Next, we covered field stripping our pistols, which is disassembling the gun in order to clean it.  We field stripped, reassembled, field stripped, reassembled, field stripped, and reassembled.

Last, our instructor demonstrated several techniques we would be practicing on Thursday. This included proper grip, drawing from a holster, sight alignment, trigger press, and three different ways to reload a pistol with ammunition.

Class 20 – Firearms Classroom 2

Thursday night was our first chance to get hands on practice as a group. We all ensured our firearms were unloaded and no live ammunition was present in the training room.

As in our last class, we started very slowly. We stood in two lines on the training mats, facing away from one another. After solidifying our stance, we worked on drawing our pistol from our holster. This process involves four distinct steps that, with practice, become a single fluid movement.

Using “dummy rounds,” which won’t fire out of the gun, we learned how to load or reload ammunition magazines into our pistols in a variety of circumstances. 

An administrative load (or unload) occurs when an instructor directs you. A tactical reload is done in the field when there is a “lull” in the action and you have time to put a full magazine into your gun. Lastly, a combat reload is done when you’re actively shooting and your pistol’s slide locks open because you’ve run out of ammunition.

We were also able to practice malfunction drills. We may occasionally press the trigger of our pistol, only to hear a ‘click’ instead of the expected ‘bang.’ If this happens, we need to mechanically perform several steps to clear the malfunction and restore our gun to working condition, quickly and safely.

The key to all of our initial training is to go slowly and work on developing proper techniques which will become automatic by the time we speed things up and work under stress.

Class 21 – Range 1

For the past four years, I’ve been toting around my very solid and healthy daughter.

I suddenly realized the value of this on Saturday when it was time to pack up all my heavy gear and drag it out to the range early in the morning. I solicited advice from my WCSO coworkers about what to bring and set everything out the night before so I wouldn’t forget anything.  Here’s what I brought:

  • Duty bag containing full duty belt and pistol
  • Duty boots with new gel insoles (comfortable feet are a must)
  • Warm running pants and BDU pants on top
  • Long-sleeve running shirt, short-sleeve running shirt, long-sleeve cotton shirt, hooded sweatshirt (layers, layers, layers)
  • Ballistic vest
  • Baseball hat
  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Packed lunch and snacks
  • Bottles of water and lip balm (it’s easy to get dehydrated out there)
  • Fabric Band-Aids and medical tape (in case my hands got cut, pinched, or scraped)
  • Hand warmers
  • Knee pads (for kneeling on the gravel range, to shoot from that position or pick up brass)
  • Rain pants and rain jacket (will need these in the future)

It was cold and cloudy when we arrived at the range. After introductions to our instructors for the day and a briefing on range rules and safety protocols, we got to work!

Our class was split into two groups who would alternate time on the line shooting. As was expected, we again went very slowly. Loaded up with live ammunition, we took our place on the five yard line and started taking single shots after drawing from the holster. We worked our way up to trying to group a series of shots as close together on the target as possible.

When it wasn’t our group’s time on the line, we found ourselves back at the reloading tables, stocking up our magazines with fresh ammunition. Thankfully, my boss gave me a heads up about this task months ago, so I’ve been spending time practicing this while watching television. That’s not to say my thumbs weren’t tired by the end of the day.

The sun soon came up and the day got warmer. It was great to be outside in the fresh air on such a beautiful day! There were so many instructors present that each candidate had a designated trainer to give them feedback all day. Having this kind of intensive, one-on-one instruction was fantastic.

During one of the exercises I got a very hot, brass cartridge (recently ejected from my neighbor’s pistol) down my shirt. We’d been instructed to keep calm and power through the searing pain instead of wildly waving our guns around. I managed to keep my cool, so to speak, and fish out the cartridge later.

We worked on the same reload techniques and malfunctions we covered in the classroom. At one point, my brain short circuited and I tried to administratively load a magazine into my pistol backwards. Yikes.

The instructors informed us we’d be ending the day on a fun note. We had a competition to see who could consecutively shoot on target while increasing the distance of their shots. I got three excellent shots in, two moderate, and then I was disqualified. The winner ended up being a classmate who hadn’t fired a gun in about twenty years!


We all did well on Saturday, from those with years of experience to those who had never fired a gun before. Hearing “Good job, Serna!” was like music to my ears and I thought, “I’m finally a natural at something!”

Having a successful academy day left me in good spirits and energized for the coming week’s classes. Then I realized that hearing “good job” doesn’t necessarily teach me anything.

A dose of encouraging feedback does serve the purpose of helping me stay positive, which is very valuable. However, I am growing and improving from the countless suggestions and corrections I hear in class, even if it’s difficult and tiring to hear criticism.

Defensive tactics have been the most mentally taxing classes for me because that’s where I receive nearly constant instruction on how to do better, be tougher, and keep fighting. This is the feedback that will ultimately force me to overcome bad habits, challenge myself, and help keep the public, other deputies, and myself safe.

One last note – congratulations to our classmate who is no longer in the academy with us because he was hired by an Oregon police agency!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Road to Reserves - Forensics, Search and Seizure, & Defensive Tactics 4

What could be more exciting than feeling the spark of love on Valentine’s Day?

Oh wait - that was just the shock of a Taser.

Prior to being exposed to OC (pepper spray) and getting tased, I heard a lot of heated debate about which of the two experiences various peace officers would rather avoid. I’m happy to say I can now weigh in with my own educated opinion.

Any guesses?

Class 16 - Forensics & Evidence

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) provides forensic analysis and property/evidence management services for the cities and unincorporated county jurisdiction. The WCSO presently employees a forensic unit supervisor, three property evidence technicians, two crime scene technicians, and two criminalists.  One of these criminalists presented to our class.

Due to the frequency of less-than-realistic portrayals of forensics staff in the media, it was important to get a clear idea of what services these units actually provide. Forensics work can be grueling, requiring long, odd hours in inclement weather conditions.  Reality check: test results don’t come back instantaneously and our female criminalists and CSTs definitely do not wear heels to crime scenes.

We learned about the different services the criminalists and crime scene technicians offer, such as crime scene processing, bloodstain pattern analysis, shoe and tire impressions, and latent fingerprint identification.

CSI: Beaverton coming soon
As first responders to major crime scenes, we must have an understanding of scene preservation. It is imperative we protect evidence so it remains untouched and useful when forensics staff arrives to document and collect it.  

We may also be called upon to take photographs of evidence or lifting latent fingerprints at the scenes of less serious crimes. Our instructor brought tools for us to practice lifting fingerprints ourselves.

We donned blue latex gloves and dusted compact discs and soda cans. Lifting prints with packing tape and properly adhering them to print lift cards takes some practice.  So does keeping the black fingerprint powder contained and not accidentally smearing it all over your face!

Class 17 - Search & Seizure

A Beaverton officer with an expansive knowledge of search and seizure law presented to us on Thursday night. This topic is especially vital to our work as reserve deputies, and it’s also often changing. New case law is constantly being established and impacting how we do business as peace officers while ensuring the public’s constitutional rights are upheld.

If we reasonably suspect an individual or a location possesses evidence of a crime, we should first consider getting a search warrant signed by a judge in order for us to search the person or place and seize the evidence we find.

There are times when obtaining a search warrant may not be reasonable or a prudent first option due to the circumstances. If this is the case, there are 13 search warrant exceptions, or situations in which we can search without a warrant if we can articulate certain factors.

Peace officers may frequently encounter some of these specific opportunities to search without a warrant. We can expect to eventually conduct searches that fall under the incident to arrest, automobile, and consent exceptions, for example.

All three of these categories of searches have certain criteria that must be met before the search can be conducted. It is incumbent on a peace officer to have a comprehensive understanding of these search and seizure protocols so he or she can make quick but accurate decisions in the field.  The officer must be ready to back up their decision to search in their written report and potentially on the stand.

Class 18 - Defensive Tactics 4

We started bright and early Saturday morning with baton familiarization and drills. With a partner, we practiced delivering a few specific baton strikes to a training pad with a big, foam training baton. Eventually we moved on to using our issued, expandable batons.

"Sheriff's Office, you are under arrest."
Once we had the tactics down, we formed a circle around the edge of the training mats. One at a time each student stepped into the middle of the circle to face a training instructor wearing a full suit of protective gear. For 30 seconds the student attempted to control the advancing “suspect” by using baton strikes, defensive movement, and commands.

Thirty seconds feels like a very long time when someone is trying to attack you.

Our third drill of the morning involved having a second suspect join the first. After a period of time protecting ourselves against both suspects at once, a cover officer (one of our classmates) would arrive to assist us. First big adrenaline rush of the day.

After a group lunch, we knew getting tased was imminent. Our instructors recognized we were not going to be able to focus on lecture with the “stunning” experience ahead of us.

We gathered back on the mats and three of us were chosen to come to the front. Two of us stood on either side of a third classmate, held on to his wrists and upper arms, and braced ourselves. An instructor attached each of the Taser’s two prongs to the candidate’s clothing with alligator clips. I could feel my classmate’s pulse pounding in his wrist while my heart pounded in my chest.

The candidate gave the go ahead that he was ready and our instructor initiated the five second electrical current.

Next it was my turn. The clips were attached high on my right shoulder blade and the other down near my waist.  I breathed out right before our instructor pulled the trigger of the Taser. The pain was concentrated between the two prongs, but my whole body was affected. All of my muscles sharply and instantaneously contracted at once and I arched backward, gritting my teeth, and clenching my fists tight.

I knew to anticipate a countdown from three seconds, but it felt like five seconds should have been long done by the time the instructor announced “three, two, one” from behind me.  The pain was so strong and so comprehensive that I was barely breathing. I couldn’t wait to feel relief.

Finally, the five seconds were up and immediately the pain left my body. I was left a bit weak-kneed and shaky from the shock to my system, but other than that I felt fine.

My assessment that getting tased hurts more than being exposed to OC, but between the two I’d still rather experience the Taser since the experience is so succinct, with no lasting symptoms.

We returned to the classroom for a long PowerPoint presentation from the manufacturers of Taser and then back to the mats for some hands on training. We did two exercises to practice loading real cartridges and firing our newly issued Tasers.

As with OC, it wasn’t arbitrary that we were required to be exposed to the Taser. Now we know exactly what it feels like and have seen the effect of different prong placements on different individuals. 

We also know what kind of reaction we should expect if we deploy our Taser. If a suspect is unaffected by what should be a debilitating pulse of electricity, we must assess what other factors may be at play (i.e. drug use). We should also be ready to transition to a different tool in order to gain control of the individual and keep the public and ourselves safe.


I found this to be a mentally challenging week. We are gearing up for our first written exam on Tuesday, February 24th, so we’re all studying for that while simultaneously being provided new information and new physical techniques to master.

Participating in the reserve academy requires a certain mental toughness as well as endurance. We completed almost 20 intensive classes to date, but are not even halfway through this adventure. The coming weeks should be interesting as we shift toward Thursday evening defensive tactics classes and hours and hours of firearms and range time on the weekends.

I’ve recently noticed a quiet shift - it’s becoming more natural to envision myself as uniformed reserve deputy. As we started with classes and being issued various pieces of equipment, I felt inexperienced and apprehensive. Our tools felt foreign in my hand.

Now, putting on my duty belt seems more comfortable and my bruises from training feel like badges of accomplishment. I can only imagine how prepared and well-trained we will all feel by the end of the academy.

Suffice it to say, anywhere in Washington County seems like a great place to start a career in law enforcement or corrections.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Road to Reserves - Traffic Crashes, Warrior Mindset, & Defensive Tactics 3

Get ready to read a whole lot about what it’s like to have your eyeballs drenched in pepper spray. What a special, memorable event – it makes for great dinner conversation!

Some part of me is glad to have experienced something so unique, however painful it was.  Keep reading to learn what it felt like, why our class was required to go through this, and how long it took us to recover!

Class 13 – Traffic Crashes

Tuesday evening brought a presentation from members of the interagency Crash Analysis Reconstruction Team (CART). These individuals discussed the peace officer’s role in crash investigations, the importance of maintaining a safe scene, the role of CART, and different types of roadway evidence.

A vehicle crash can be a serious incident that may disrupt traffic, pull many resources to one location, and potentially result in injury or death.  It is imperative that a peace officer travel quickly but safely to these scenes to protect life, secure any potential evidence, and restore order.

The CART members explained roadway evidence commonly found at traffic crashes – all things we should keep an eye out for, take care not to disrupt, and document as part of our initial investigation.  This can include tire marks, gouges in the asphalt, fluid trails or debris.

Using mathematical formulas and specialized software, investigators are able to examine this evidence and then determine vehicle speeds, locations, directions of movement, and more. Fortunately, as a reserve deputy, I’ll get to leave all the fancy math and science stuff up to the CART members.

Deputies and officers do, however, need to know how to measure and chart traffic crash scenes. We were shown different techniques to utilize and discussed the importance of obtaining as many photographs of a crash scene as possible. You never know what small piece of photo evidence could make or break an investigation.

We ended the night viewing photographs of crash scenes. As sobering and grisly as these photos may have been, they prepare us for what we will see out on the road.

Class 14 – Warrior Mindset & Officer Survival

Sitting in a classroom, listening to lectures, and even participating in defensive tactics training on the mats can’t fully convey the seriousness and potential danger of the situations we may encounter after graduation.

It’s easy to think about all the exciting things law enforcement work may hold – chasing after bad guys, firearms training, and solving crimes – adrenaline rushes, the stuff of movies. We must remember, however, that someday we may find ourselves in a battle for our life.

We talked about the physical symptoms of very high, critical incident related stress. Hopefully, by being aware of what to expect and learning methods like tactical breathing to combat the overwhelming stress, we will more successfully work through challenging incidents while maintaining our composure and health.

Our instructor showed several videos of officer-involved shootings, where peace officers were either seriously injured or killed by a subject’s gunfire.  The purpose was not to second guess any officer’s actions or decisions, but to observe the tremendous stress reaction that can result from these scenarios.

Every individual’s response to that stress is different, but the most inspiring individuals went into the encounter with a survival mindset, a will to live, and a commitment to fighting with every breath and ounce of energy they had. 

It may come as a surprise that after this warrior mindset discussion, our class received the message that it’s okay to withdraw from the reserve program. If after honestly assessing ourselves, our abilities, and the realities of police work, we decide to bow out of the academy, that decision will be met with full acceptance from our trainers.

As peace officers, whether paid or volunteer, our full commitment is required. If we realize we are unable to wholly commit to our training and a resilient mindset, it is our duty to share that fact with our instructors in order to protect ourselves, other peace officers, and the public.

I’m proud to say our group hasn’t lost any members.  At this point, we are still fighting strong with our full class of 14 candidates.

Class 15 - Defensive Tactics 3

Our tremendously kind and understanding defensive tactics instructors, in realizing that Saturday, February 14th is Valentine’s Day, decided to douse us with pepper spray a week early instead of on the 14th as planned.

First, we needed to tackle our proper defensive stance and then move on to striking. For those of us who don’t have prior martial arts, boxing or wrestling experience, it takes some instruction to solidify the correct defensive stance and arm placement. I need to work on keeping my elbows in tight to my body.

We paired up and worked on palm strikes. One person would hold up gloved hands and the “officer” role player would alternate striking with their left and right palms.  We moved on to knee strikes and a type of foot strike.

After a few slow speed practice rounds, we donned headgear, mouth guards, and boxing gloves for some sparring practice. I had never done anything at all like this activity before, so it was very exciting to hit the mat with my partner and start trying to get good strikes on him.  All of these new, previously daunting DT activities are turning out to be a LOT of fun.

We returned from lunch and snacked on some tasty homemade “bloodshot eyeball” cookies a classmate had brought to share.

Our class listened to a short presentation about oleoresin capsicum (OC spray), commonly referred to as “pepper spray.” Of most interest to us as a class were the decontamination steps, since we knew we would all be exposed to OC within the hour.  We also learned about proper use of the spray canister and the myriad physical effects it causes.

The purpose of spraying each of us candidates with OC was twofold. Most important, this experience would demonstrate to each of us that we possess the mental toughness to fight through intense pain.  We would accomplish this by completing a series of tasks while under the effects of the spray.

We would also now personally experience the type and degree of force we may someday use on another person. This will allow us to better elaborate in our written report why that use of force was appropriate for the situation.

And so it begins. You stand outside in front of an instructor who sprays OC on your closed eyes. He instructs you to open your eyes and blink.

Look closely to see the stream of OC spray!
Moments later, the pain hits. Your eyes slam shut and are nearly impossible to open again. You must open them to see where you’re going, but doing so only increases the intense burning sensation.  The skin on your face feels scorching hot, irritated, and sensitive to touch. Your nose starts to run and mucous collects in your throat. Your breathing becomes choppy and erratic.

With a partner by your side, you jog over to one side of the parking lot and inflict ten baton strikes and ten knee strikes on an instructor holding a big defense pad. Simultaneously, you yell a command of your choice at the “suspect” while your partner counts off the strikes.  Like many of your classmates, you yell “Get back!” repeatedly.

From there you run to another area of the parking lot and take handcuffs from an instructor and proceed to handcuff him. Much of this is done by touch as you struggle to keep your eyes cracked open. Tears run down your face.

You run back toward the building where the last task is to place ten Simunition cartridges (non-lethal paint bullets used for training) into individual holes in a tray. By now, your hands are shaking and your breath is ragged. You might drop cartridges and have to feel around to find them again. You may make guttural moaning noises from the discomfort.

Success! You fought through the sting and were victorious. It’s finally time to stick your head in a bucket of cold water and scrub your face and eyes with baby shampoo. You might alternate blinking your eyes toward the bottom of the bucket and raising a hose to your face to rinse off.  Eventually you’ll feel well enough to abandon the water, but your face and eyes continue to burn as you walk around in the fresh air.

Ten minutes, then twenty minutes pass. At times you might start to feel an improvement, but then the OC seems to spontaneously reactivate. Your skin and eyes are flushed red.  Slowly you’re able to open your eyes enough to be able to walk around without a guide. Only air, water, and time will provide you solace.

By the book, recovery is expected to take 8-45 minutes.  Most of us, however, could still feel lingering effects from the OC when we woke up Sunday morning.

Now we have getting tased to look forward to next Saturday! These are exciting times.


This was quite a week!  As the classes progress, the topics we cover tend to become more intense, increasingly challenging, and sometimes troubling, but our resolve to succeed grows stronger.

Training with one another, learning side by side, and sharing these exciting experiences serves to solidify our growing bond as a class. This bond is particularly important because these will be the other peace officers who have our back out on the road or in the jail.

As one of my classmates said to me Saturday, “When we started the academy, I never imagined I’d someday be cleaning OC out of your ears.” Sounds like a quality relationship to me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Road to Reserves - Criminal Law & Defensive Tactics 2

It is hard to believe a month has already passed since we started this journey!

We quickly realized the importance of balancing our personal and professional responsibilities with this endeavor. As a result, we have all developed individual routines and time management strategies to help us graduate successfully. 

My routine includes committing Sunday mornings to studying. I pour myself a cup of coffee, sit down on the couch, and pull out my pen, index cards, and my pocket law guides. It has actually become one of my favorite, most peaceful times of the week!

Class 10 & 11 - Criminal Law

Would you rather go out to a fine dinner in Portland, see a movie with friends or try to absorb one hundred and fifty three slides of criminal law information?

We had the pleasure of enjoying the last option. An animated career officer from Beaverton presented this material to us on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Class ran all the way until 10:00pm both nights.

High school was a long time ago for some of us, but our instructor asked us whether we could remember each of the ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights. 

Quick - How many of the Amendments can you recall off the top of your head?

The 4th Amendment (which protects against unreasonable search and seizure) was of particular relevance to our criminal law discussions.

We talked at length about probable cause and reasonable suspicion. We must develop a thorough understanding of both concepts. This will provide us a solid foundation on which to then understand our authority to stop, question, and arrest citizens.

Next, we reviewed the elements of an offense. In order to arrest someone for a crime, a peace officer must have probable cause to believe an individual demonstrated specific “conduct” or behavior. Sometimes the peace officer must also demonstrate that a suspect exhibited a certain mental state while performing the conduct.

Take ORS 166.015 Riot, for example. This statute states:

(1) A person commits the crime of riot if while participating with five or more other persons the person engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public alarm.

The act required to arrest someone for this crime is engaging in “tumultuous and violent conduct” and creating a “grave risk of cause public alarm.” The mental states that qualify this action as a crime are “intentionally” or “recklessly.” Additionally, six or more persons must be involved in the act.

This means you can’t arrest someone for this particular crime if the conduct does not match up (i.e. only three people are present) or if a required mental state is not present (i.e. the conduct is somehow borne out of criminal negligence).

The full Oregon Criminal Code vs. the
small pocket guide we will carry
For our midterm we will all need to memorize a great number of common crimes, including the conduct and, if applicable, mental state components of each. Time to break out those flash cards!

We delved deeper into the use of force conversation and looked at the classes of misdemeanor and felony charges, the situations in which a peace officer MUST arrest a suspect (often this decision is left up to the officer or deputy’s discretion), and a host of other criminal law topics.

Class 12 - Defensive Tactics 2

Comfort with proximity is one of the key mental tools being instilled in us as we progress through defensive tactics training. We sure got our fill of proximity on Saturday.

Since this was to be a more active day than last Saturday, we started class with a group jog around the mats and some stretching exercises. We then worked on pinning a noncompliant subject to the ground and rolling him or her to their stomach so we could handcuff them.

Next, we learned a variety of takedown techniques. These tactics are used when a suspect who is going to be arrested refuses to be handcuffed or otherwise comply with instructions. Using leverage and balance, even a deputy who is not tall or heavy can bring a suspect to the ground.

We paired up to try these takedown maneuvers. After learning several options, we were instructed to step on to the mat, two teams at a time. One person playing the officer or deputy would attempt to take down the “bad guy.” The exercise was designed for the first takedown technique to fail, so we would need to think quickly and move to a second takedown strategy, which would ultimately succeed in getting the subject to the ground.

Taking a coffee break between DT sessions

We then practiced walking with a handcuffed suspect. A deputy or officer must remain vigilant at this point in an arrest. There are a number of ways to retain control and maintain safety while transporting a handcuffed individual.

Our last task was to learn how to place a handcuffed subject into the back of a patrol car if he or she stiffens up and refuses to sit down. We went out to the parking lot to practice with actual vehicles. Once again, we took turns playing the officer/deputy and the suspect. A lot of laughter resulted – perhaps because of the sunshine and fresh air or our sense of accomplishment at tackling day two of DTs!

Unlike the regular in-house deputy academy, where the candidates spend 40 hours a week learning their new job, we instead only have our three classes a week to work with. This means squeezing a whole lot of information into 16 hours per week and often not having the chance to review in class. As a result, studying and practicing outside of class time becomes especially important.

One thing I enjoy about these defensive tactics classes is how the skills are taught to us piecemeal. We start with easy tasks and build on them, so it isn’t as difficult once we get to the more complicated tactics. A number of instructors also participate in each class and provide us with constant feedback and suggestions on how to improve.

Eight hours’ worth of nonstop exercise definitely leaves us stiff and aching for a couple days after our defensive tactics classes. However, it’s a satisfying pain that reminds us of the hard work we’re putting in. I’m surprised by how much fun it is to roll around, sweat, and build my proficiency.


Like I mentioned last week, it is so exciting to be issued all our gear and uniform items! Tonight I’ll be bringing the county folks their custom-fit bullet proof vests. 

Trying on my new custom body armor!
My house is starting to look like some kind of law enforcement department store, with handcuffs lying on the counter, my duty belt hanging from a closet door knob, and Sheriff’s Office clothing items stored in nearly every room.

It has been fascinating to see how all these tangible duty items fit together like a puzzle with the theoretical material we hear about in our lectures and the techniques we learn in defensive tactics class.

A peace officer must have a broad understanding of countless interconnecting topics such as their arrest authority, the rights guaranteed under the 4th Amendment, the nuances of law as written in the Oregon Revised Statutes, the officer’s duty to protect the public and how that relates to use of force, and how to properly use the tools with which he or she is equipped.

Clearly, this is a lot to learn. Thank you to everyone who has been reading about our experience on this blog and supporting our class via social media!