Training Day - Part 1

A Look Inside College of the Desert's Public Safety Academy

Training Day - Part 1

PALM DESERT, Calif. - What does it take to get into law enforcement?
News Channel 3's Chris Alvarez received an all access pass to the College of the Desert's Public Safety Academy.

That's where the next generation of Police Officers is training, to be prepared to serve and protect.

It's 7:30 am on a Saturday, no time for sleeping in or watching cartoons, it's time to get to work.

"The basic skills throughout that you learn throughout this, things like discipline, accountability, integrity, showing up for work on time and taking responsibility for what you do." says Chris Madigan, Public Safety Academy Director.

A quick warmup of marching, pushups, and a wall climb leads recruits to the parking lot to get behind the wheel for vehicle operations training.

Dan Hill, driving instructor explains, "They have to go ahead and pass what they are doing it isn't just like a free ticket where they say 'okay i drove it, i hit something', it isn't going to work that way."

"Some of the recruits, they hear that siren and what we call that is siren syndrome, once they start hearing that siren their adrenaline flow starts to get up there, their heartbeat starts pumping, we try and get them to settle back down again."

After the driving course, recruits prepare for the obstacle course, where they work on techniques for catching suspects.

It's obviously very important as they go through the training and I'm going to try this right now, start 5 yards back, hop the fence and run 25 yards it simulates catching a suspect running through, jumping over fences... here we go... (struggle getting over wall) this is first take folks. (runs away after hopping fence).

Now it's my turn to put these skills to the test... first chasing down a suspect...

"What do you have in your hand? (suspect takes off, is caught)... I'm lucky he tripped"

Then the tables turn and i become the suspect...

And finally the dummy drag... carrying 165 pounds of dead weight...  

All these challenges require recruits to be in top shape, including 45 year old Rusty Harling.

"You definitely have to tune up, you have to stay on your a game, you aren't just going to come out here without any preparation."

Madigan agrees.  "The physical aspect is probably the most challenging but on the other hand he presents makes things a little easier in terms of adapting to the program."

Harling understands the challenge in front of him.  "From what I understand 45 is pretty much your age limit and i don't know if there is a lot of guys that try to stay in shape or are in as good shape that I'm in at my age, I can't speak for everybody, I know that if I wait another 5 years this is something that will be very difficult to get through. but like I said, this is something I really want to do and it's been a calling for me."

A calling that Harling and his fellow recruits all hope to answer.

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