Becoming an officer: I’m so different now

single-meta-cal June 13, 2017

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: Latoya Ragland, 28, from Huntsville, a married mother of three. She’s a former track star at Butler High, for which she won three state titles, and earned a track scholarship to Troy University. She shares her story with CityBlog senior writer Mark McCarter: 

Right now we’re doing death investigations, going over a lot of graphic things about homicides, suicides and stuff like that.  That was tough, especially looking at infant homicides.

We’ve been talking about child abuse and sexual crimes against children. That was very horrific. I didn’t realize how bad some people are, to think of doing things they do, especially toward children. It was an eye-opener, the things we heard, the things we saw.

Since I have three kids, it really does put it in a different perspective. I get home and I just want to hug them a little tighter. It makes me appreciate my kids even more. I want to watch everything they do, protect them even more.

And it pushes me even more to be a police officer. You want to catch the people who do those bad things and put them behind bars.

Speaking of my kids, I have a nine-year-old, my son will be six in a couple of months and I have a one-year-old. Graduation from the Academy is getting closer and every day when I get home, they’re going, “Mama, you got your gun?” “Mama, you gonna get that taser thing?” “Mama, when you are gonna get your police car?” I’m going to have to be real careful and lock everything up and hide things when I graduate.

Stuff is starting to become even more real, this close to graduation. At the beginning of the academy we were like, “I’m already ready for graduation, I’m ready for July 7 to come.” Now it’s coming so fast. It’s fixing to get real.

I look back, and the most enjoyable part of the Academy was when we went to Selma and did the driving course. I actually drive slow. I’m a grandma on the road. But when I went to Selma, it was like, well, something else came out in me.

I’m so much different now than when I started in the Academy. I’m more alert. I’m watching everything — everything around me, behind me. I look at things totally different.

Physically, I’m in top shape. I started off I wasn’t able to do a pull-up. All through college I could never do a pull-up. Right now, I can do 12-13 pull-ups. I was fast in college, but I never had six-pack abs. I just had a flat stomach. I have a six-pack now.