The Butte College Law Enforcement Academy graduates are about to embark on a career that could have fatal consequences.
Since the beginning of 2013, 49 officers in the United States have died. California is the state with the most officer deaths.
“The dangers on the streets of America rural or municipality is very great,” said Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones.
Jones knows firsthand the risks of being in the line of duty. With more than 40 years of experience in the field, he can also add Range Master to his resume. He is passing on his knowledge and skills at the academy, because he says it is his obligation.
“Young man and woman’s world out there, and the older officers who survived a 25 to 40 year career need to pass on those lessons learned,” said Jones.
Along with the other instructors, Jones makes sure the recruits are both mentally and physically prepared for their futures in law enforcement. Typically only about half of the recruits graduate from the rigorous six month program. The 131st Class started with 51 recruits in January. By the end in June only 24 finished.
“I think these are the cream of the crop, the ones who have decided to dedicate their lives to public service,” said Jones.
Redding Police Officer Garett Maxwell completed the program in 2008.
“It sets a foundation for the officers. I firmly believe your learning never stops in this profession. My personal opinion is that the day I stop learning is the day I am going to retire,” said Maxwell.
Maxwell started off with the Anderson Police Department and transferred to the Redding department in 2012.
“I will never forget the first time I sat in a police car and was actually driving it, grabbing a radio and thinking what did I get myself into,” said Maxwell.
The training program set the tone for Maxwell’s profession, and since first suiting up he continues to learn something new everyday
“The first training program that you have when you start at an actual agency is when you get a reality check on what you are doing,” said Maxwell.
A reality the academy graduates will soon face. They train in firearm courses which are set up with different obstacles to prepare them for real life or death situations.
“When you go out to these combat courses you can really act like you are in the situation, prepares us mentally when we go out and hit that on the street,” said recruit Dustin Russell.
The firearms portion is one of the more stressful and valuable tests. The cadets are learning how to handle their weapons on the range, because they could be outgunned while on patrol.
“A handgun is a defensive weapon at best and we must prepare these individuals to come up against heavier fire power on the street,” said Jones.
Lauren McKee is the only female recruit to finish the program. She feels the repetitive training is crucial to be successful when using deadly force like handguns and shotguns.
“Makes you feel confident and protected but when put in a situation where you have to use it, it is not a situation you take lightly. So you have to assess each situation separately and use that lethal force appropriately,” said McKee.
After the academy it takes advanced training to maintain the skills. They all must rely on what they were taught, because anything could happen day one on the job. Putting their own lives on the line to protect and serve, because risking their own lives for others is the job of law enforcement.
“I think each of us does it because we have the ability to make a difference in our community,” said McKee.
This program costs each recruit more than $5,000. After graduation, they pursue careers as police officers, sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Marshall agents. The next class begins July 1, 2013 and will run through December 2013.