Becoming an Officer: Getting in gear

single-meta-cal May 19, 2017

This week marks National Police Week, an observance signed into law by President Kennedy in 1962. Each day this week, CityBlog will have a story focusing on the Huntsville Police Department. 

The Huntsville Police Department’s new Academy class is underway, with the 18-week process ending in July. We’ll regularly follow four members as they share their stories of the Academy. 

Today: Randell Plemons, 22, from Springville, Ala., a 2016 graduate of the University of Montevallo whose father Mark worked 16 years as a Huntsville police officer.

We’ve been working on traffic stops. It’s all about communication, but you’re entering an unknown. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You have to approach each car the same way and treat everybody with courtesy. There’s a lot you have to think about, to be aware of the whole time.

I learned I need to scan the car more than I did the first time. I was more focused on what I need to say because I’m trying to get used to that.

Last week, we went to Selma and Montgomery and got to learn how to drive patrol cars in high-stress situations. We went down there Wednesday to get settled in. Then all day Thursday and into the night we did the driving course. We sectioned it out and we did it three times.

At night we practiced pursuits. We would chase one of the training advisors who was driving a car. They would go all over a course and we’d try to keep up with them. There were a lot of turns and there were cones out there. In the drill, you can’t hit a cone because that counts as a wreck.

There were a lot of turns so we were only going about 30 miles an hour. Forty would be pushing it.  I didn’t go that fast because I’m not that fast of a driver. I was more focused on not hitting cones.  Because the cones came up so quickly, it was all about the reaction time.

Becoming an officer: One step at a time

On the road, I drive the speed limit, or maybe a little over, whatever I need to do to keep up with traffic. Maybe that’s from being the son of a cop. I’ve gotten a parking ticket, but I’ve never had a traffic violation ticket. It wouldn’t be good to come home with a speeding ticket.

We’re into the second half of the Academy now, but it’s never gotten easy. Since we started, I’m more confident as a person. I came in here pretty disciplined, but I’m more confident with the way I walk and carry myself.

They’re always keeping us on our toes. Every day is a new day, something different. A couple of weeks ago, we got tased. I thought the taser was horrible. It was the longest five seconds of my life. I thought it was worse than the O.C. (pepper) spray. I’m pretty sure most everybody else would rather be tased.

Last week was mainly classroom stuff and I know we’ve got a lot of that ahead. It’s not the fun stuff — like getting to chase an instructor in a car or being outside pretending to pull somebody over.