Becoming an officer: Time to graduate

single-meta-cal July 5, 2017

The Huntsville Police Department’s new Academy class ends its 18-week process with this Friday’s graduation. We’ve regularly followed four members as they share their stories of the Academy, and we’ll look back at the process – and ahead to their futures – after graduation. 

Today: Crystal Vanaria, 26, from Orlando, a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a double major in criminal justice and studio art, who also serves in the U.S. Army Reserve.

We had DUI training and it was interesting. We did something called a “wet lab.”

We actually had volunteers come in and drink for us, and we were able to perform the field sobriety tests on them. We had to guess their blood alcohol content and if we’d arrest them on the streets.

The first night, we had HEMSI volunteers, some nurses and some significant others of police officers. The second night, it was strictly on a volunteer basis.

They told us to have fun with it, but maintain our professionalism. It gave us an eye-opener about how it would be on the streets. We had one female who seemed completely fine. We guessed she might have been a .02 (blood alcohol level). It turns out, she had a lot of drinks and was completely intoxicated. It showed us somebody could seem normal but could be intoxicated. We have to be very observant.

We finally got through about midnight Friday, which ended about a 55-hour week in the classroom, with some intense physical training mixed in. We’ve had classes about writing arrest reports, how to go from doing them on paper to doing them electronically and about the difference in reports for juveniles and for adults.

It’s not as complicated as it is making sure you pay attention to detail. Every report is based on how much detail there is. It’s very important to make sure you have everything. If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen. That’s one thing they’ve taught us.

The last couple of weeks have been hectic getting ready for graduation and doing physical training so we’re ready to be on the streets. It’s really full-speed ahead now.

It’s been a whole lifestyle change for me. I’m definitely more aware, more observant, but still giving people the benefit of the doubt. As one of the training officers told us, “Keep a smile on your face, but be ready to react to anything that’s going to happen.”