Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pepper spray is cruel and unusual punishment!!

To preface the misery that is pepper spray i'll briefly explain how hot pepper spray is in comparison to some common foods.  Original Tobasco sauce has an SHU (scoville heat units) of around 2140, Jalapeno peppers have and SHU of around 5000, the Ghost Chili (worlds hottest pepper) has an SHU of 855,000.  The spray that we carry in my department has an SHU of well over 2,000,000.  In order to genuinely understand the insane amount of pain you experience from pepper spray go grab a bottle of tobasco sauce and put some in your eyes and then multiply that pain by 934 if you can even comprehend that once its in your eyes...  Needless to say, being pepper sprayed was hands down the most painful and worst experiences of my entire life.  I've broken more bones than anyone i know and have ripped ligaments in my leg and torn my kneecap completely in half, and the pain from all of those injuries doesnt even begin to compare to being pepper sprayed.  Now on to my experience...

So heres how it goes...  We Had PT first thing friday morning to get our pores nice and open so they could receive the pepper spray "properly".  Then we line up outside and start going one by one...  The recruits sprayed each other too, so not only does it suck for you when you get sprayed but it sucks that you have to spray your friends and cause them so much pain...  My partner was a squad leader and the class leadership got sprayed first so his time came and we set up, the sgt handed me the can and i pointed it at his face and let it fly.  Then i led him through the course safely so he didnt trip over anything and could make it from station to station.  The course starts out with getting sprayed, then you have to open your eyes and the sgt is holding up his fingers and you have to tell him how many, then you run 10 yards to a punching station where you throw a bunch of crosses and yell "stop resisting" and "youre under arrest", then you run 25 yards to a knee spear station where you yell and knee the bag a bunch, then you run another 10 yards to the handcuffing station where you have to draw your weapon and position a "suspect" into a kneeling handcuff position and then handcuff them.  There is no time limit, but you arent allowed to run and all of your commands have to be given slowly enough for the person to be able to understand them and respond. My partner was a cop before and has been sprayed a couple of times so he did pretty well, and i walked him over to the decon station and he started sticking the hose in his eyes and washing his face with baby soap.  After a few minutes he was able to open his eyes again and i led him inside to the locker room so he could get in the shower and help relieve more of the pain and continue washing it out.  As we get into the locker room, someone in the shower is still screaming in agony.  This is not what i wanted to hear when i came in...  My fear level shot through the roof as i saw all of the guys in the shower faces beat red, eyes swollen shut, and hating life...  Then i got to take 2 other people through it before i finally got my turn each time the locker room was getting more and more contaminated with run off from the shower and people running in.

So my turn finally came, and i get in position and close my eyes and take a deep breath preparing myself for the pain that is about to come.  The other recruit says his lines that you have to say before you spray someone "you're under arrest, stop resisting", and here it comes...  Then from the decon station someone yells "WAIT!!!  WE DONT HAVE AN OPEN HOSE!!!".  So I open my eyes and want to scream, i just wanted to get it over with and i was half a second away from getting it done and i'm put on hold AGAIN!!!  Finally a hose opened up i turn back towards my fellow recruit, he says his lines again, and BAM there it is.  The waiting was finally over, and all i could think was "can i go back to waiting again please???".  The pain was instantaneous, and unlike anything i had ever experienced before.  I wanted to rip my eyes out and pour water right into my eye sockets.  Unfortunately i had to open my eyes tell my sgt he was holding up four fingers and then run through the course.  So i mustered all of that pain and turned it into rage and ran to the punching station and unleashed my fury.  The pain subsided while i was punching because i was so focused on hitting it as hard as i could so i could go on to the next station.  The command came from the instructor and i took off arm in arm with my partner.  Same thing at the knee spear station, i unleashed my rage again and got the go ahead to move to the handcuffing station.  For those that know me in real life, i have a bit of a problem with talking REALLY fast all the time.  The pain amplified my rate of speech ten fold and i had said everything i needed to say to get the "suspect" in a handcuffing position so fast that i barely understood it, so my instructors got in my face and started yelling at me to slow down.  So i took as deep of a breath as i could and told the suspect once again what to do and then proceeded to handcuff him and tell the instructors how i was going to search the suspect now that he was in custody.  The course was finally over and my partner dragged me over to the decon station...

I'll be honest with you, I did decently well with actually getting sprayed and having to perform the tasks afterwards but i was a bitch once it was finally over and it was time to decontaminate myself.  I lost control once i got to the hose.  I freak out when i'm not in control of myself, and when theres nothing i can do to stop something from happening.  Its an innate reaction when my body cant handle the stress of something.  I cant hear, i cant see, i cant breathe, i cant stop the pain, and add on top of it the fact that i have bronchitis and my chest was starting to tighten up again and making it even harder to breathe but no one would give me my inhaler, they just kept telling me i had to decon more before i was allowed to use it.  So i furiously washed my face and neck and ears and head until all of it was off, and i kept yelling for my inhaler but no one would give it to me they kept telling me to just relax and i could have it soon.  Eventually after about 5 minutes of sitting there with a hose in my face i could open my eyes again and i was allowed to go in to the much contaminated locker room.  I may have gotten it all off of the surface of my face, but it was buried deep within my pores...  I spent the next 45 minutes running back and forth from sticking my face directly into the shower head to the powerful fans that were blowing in the locker room (air flow supposedly helps, but it just made it burn worse for me...).  Eventually i got to a point where i could somewhat deal with the pain and i had someone open my locker and get my clothes out for me.  I ran out of the shower and got dressed faster than i ever have before in my life and ran out into the gym area to put my face right against one of the industrial sized factory fans which helped to relieve a bit of the burning.  My goal was to eventually make it outside into the cool spring air.  For the next 30 minutes i walked in a big circle trying desperately to be able to open my eyes again and to get the burning to stop.  After about 20 minutes of walking in circles the burning had gotten down to about a 6 on the pain scale and i was able to somewhat function again.  The rest of the day was filled with flare ups when i started to sweat again and it pumped out of my pores and back onto the surface of my skin, and when i got home and spread out all of the clothing on the front porch to air out, then once again when i got in the shower at night and realized that i'd missed cleaning out my ears and there was still a bunch of it crusted in my eyelashes and the corners of my eyes and it was just like getting sprayed again...  Its now two days later and my eyes still hurt from it.

Of all the things i learned on friday the most important one is that i will never pepper spray someone!!!  As soon as i graduate and there is a TASER class with an opening i will be attending it.  Pepper spray blows...  Hopefully i'll get a video of it from somebody soon and i'll post it up.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Subject Control and Holy Shit that Hurt!!!

The official title of the block of instruction for last week and this coming up week is Subject Control and Arrest Techniques (or S.C.A.T.) for short.  I'm pretty sure that all that happened this week is we, the students, learned how to put handcuffs on people, swing a foam bat that is supposed to resemble a baton, get beat up by an instructor, and then lastly get sprayed with pepper spray on friday.  This week was AWESOME, but full of lots of pain (specifically in the facial region).

Add on to the physicality of the actual training for the week we also had PT every day this week, and it wasn't the easy kind...  We ran 4 out of the 5 days at varying distances and pace.  Monday consisted of only a mile and a half, but at a sprinting pace in which half of the platoon fell out and were sent to experience the greatness of the goon squad which i've come to love at times (its hell, but i'm a lot better at calisthenics than running because big guys werent made to run long distances).  Tuesday we ran one of our most hated routes that includes a 1/4 mile long hill that would stress most people out just to walk up it then we got to the top of the hill, turned around, and headed back down so we could run up it again.  Unfortunately i made it up the hill the second time, but was so gassed at that point i couldnt get my breathing under control again and was put in the safety vehicle and sped back to the academy to once again join the goon squad.  Wednesday was an hour full of practicing our striking techniques (punching, kicking, knee spears, baton drills) at a rapid pace.  Thursday was my glory day...  We went for a five mile run which included the dreaded hill and i made it through from start to finish!  I had two instructors who would periodically come over and help me with my breathing so i could keep pushing through it.  Unfortuantely later in the day i started to experience some tightness in my chest, difficulty breathing, and some nausea so i was sent home to go see my doctor.  Turns out i have bronchitis, so i'm sure that didnt help with any of the running we did this week, but it still felt amazing to make it through.  Friday was pretty much just 45 minutes of doing sit ups, push ups, and air squats over and over again in order to get our heart rates up and get us sweating so our pores were nice and open for the pepper spray that was about to come, but more on that later...

Wednesday was our first red man fight, which was an AWESOME experience!  It's been a long time since i've been in a real fight, and as odd as it sounds it was kind of fun to get rocked in the face like 20 times...  The drill was supposed to be on how to create and maintain distance from a suspect while using a baton.  Essentially you were supposed to stay at a 45 degree angle from the instructor and take hard strikes with the baton in the middle of the thighs, upper arms, lower legs, and chest.  I however had a hard time staying out of the center line of the instructors body, and i paid dearly for it...  I started out great, was swinging for the fences and landing good hard blows.  Then i stepped in with the wrong foot and ducked my head a little bit and BAM!!!!  The instructor landed a sweet right cross right on the side of my face and i was a bit stunned, then came jabs from both the right and left hands landing squarely on my nose and eyes.  It took about 5 punches to the face before i got my head back on straight and was able to escape to the side and deliver a couple more blows with my baton.  I went for another baton strike and my baton goes flying across the room from the sweat...  friggen wonderful...  Heres where my military training kicked in and all i could think to do was go on the offensive instead of continuing to create and maintain distance, this was a HUGE mistake.  Trying to fight someone heads up who is wearing a foam helmet with a face mask and is covered in foam from the neck down is an exercise in futility.  I got squared up with the instructor and started throwing jabs, and crosses, and a knee spear or two, and a shin kick but it was all for naught on my last cross the instructor dodged it and put me in an armbar and took me to the ground and got in a side mount position (which we hadnt learned how to escape from yet) holding me in the arm bar and continuing to punch me in the face until after another 4-5 punches i decided it was a good idea to use my training and lock his arm down to my chest while i tried to figure out how to escape his grasp.  Unfortunately the timekeeper called an end to the fight before i had a chance to escape.  It was a hell of a day, and i'm really looking forward to getting to see the video sometime next week!

Stay tuned for the pepper spray story sometime later this weekend...

Friday, February 25, 2011

my apologies for a long hiatus...

hello again!  its been a little while since i've been able to update my e-crowd on how life is progressing to this point, and i'm sorry i havent blogged in a couple of weeks...  its not that i dont care to keep you all informed, but lets just say life has been a wee bit busy the past few weeks.  since my last post, we've had 5 tests and with tests come homework (a shit ton of it to be exact...) 3 of which i got 100%'s on, GO ME!!!  The other two tests i got 95%'s on so go me again!  I'm pretty sure at this point I have the most 100%'s on tests out of my entire class, and one of the guy's i sit by has started calling me "rainman" because of my uncanny ability to recall insignificant facts that have only been mentioned once during a 40 hour period of instruction, but i guess its never a bad thing to be smart.  Although I never expected to do this well academically, i've never exactly been an exceptional student.  A lot has happened in the past few weeks, so i'll just try and hit the high and low points...

Probably the major low point was last wednesday.  The day began as any other.  Showed up, unloaded my uniform, lunch, and backpack out of the car and headed to the locker room where i stowed my lunch and uniform in my locker because we had PT that morning, then headed up to put my backpack upstairs in the classroom (heres where i made my fatal mistake).  Our "heavy" instructor is pretty big on uniformity, and up until this point minor inconsistencies in the classroom when we weren't in there weren't a problem.  That all changed that wednesday, as myself and four other people in class returned to find all four of our books had been thrown across the room and all of our papers from inside them were in a crumpled pile sitting in the middle of the aisle.  Only one word comes to mind once you realize you are one of the unfortunate few that will spend the next 6 hours agonizingly separating over 5000 pages of paper and ensuring that everyone has each individual piece in the right order and that it wasn't ruined beyond use, and that word is "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK".  That was quite possibly, one of the most stressful days of my life because from 9am to 3pm i sat in the back of the classroom on the floor sifting through all of the pieces of paper and picking out what i needed, and finding the homework that was in the book, and finding the pages that belonged to me because i'd written notes on them, so on and so forth.  I wasn't exactly mad about my book being messed up, but what really pissed me off is that i missed almost an ENTIRE DAY of instruction even though I was still sitting in the classroom.  I can understand making me do push ups, or making me go crawl around in the mulch pit, or whatever physical punishment they wish to inflict on me, but for god sakes dont screw with my opportunity to learn and ask questions.  If i fail the test or screw up something majorly in a criminal investigation i can at least say it wasn't my fault, because my training was comprimised.  One of my other classmates who also fell victim went and had a meeting with one of the other members of the training staff who brought it up to the Sgt, and i think its safe to say that this type of incident wont be happening again, unfortunately that doesn't change anything for the misery i endured.

The next day had its pros and cons...  We showed up and took a test, all the while my stomach was churning and growling.  I finished the test and went downstairs to get do some stretching before PT started at the end of the testing period, stomach still hurting.  We make a decision as a class that we are going to do our formal stretching outside in front of the PT table because the SWAT team was using the room we usual stretch in.  So i'm standing out there in formation waiting for everyone else to come out and for our Sgt to come lead us in PT, and my stomach finally decided it had had enough of whatever its problem was, and it was time for me to double time to the bathroom and hug the porcelain throne...  So i go running in, blow right by the Sgt and do my thing in the bathroom.  I'm not even done vomiting when an instructor comes in and tells me to clean it up, and get my gear and get out of the building and go home.  Well thats great, now i get to make up a PT session in the future and i'm missing my second successive day of class.  Fucking wonderful...  So i drove home, and spent the rest of the day sitting on the couch and working on the homework for the week which freed up the weekend for me to spend time with my wonderful wife, dogs, and motorcycle.

The major high points were that i finally finished two runs with the main formation for the first time in the academy!!!  It only took two months, but i finally did it!!!  My knee hated me afterwards, but it builds character (or at least thats what they keep telling me...).  All of the off duty running is starting to pay off, and one of the instructors had a class with those of us who suck at running to help teach us how to breathe properly and recover even when we are still running which i didn't even think was possible until i tried it yesterday on the run.  Life is soooooooo much easier when you push through all of the pain and inability to breathe and finish the run.  You dont end up getting punished at the end of the run and have to crawl through the mud and mulch, or spend the rest of the day in pain, and its a great sense of accomplishment to finally after all of the pain make it to the end with your team.  In total so far i've lost 24lbs since january 3rd, and i have no intention of stopping until i get back down to the weight i was when i left the Marines which with another 5 months of academy time i dont forsee a problem getting there, and maybe even better.

The next two weeks are going to be hectic, and i may not get a chance to blog during them.  The next two weeks are called S.C.A.T. (couldnt they have found a better acronym?) or Subject Control and Arrest Techniques.  Essentially for the next two weeks our entire lives are going to revolve around PT, and fighting both each other and the infamous redman, heres a glorified youtube video of what redman is all about...

essentially when you fight the redman things can go really well, or they can go disastrously bad, it all depends on how well you can defuse a situation.  sometimes no matter what you do, you're gonna have to go hands on and get dirty, but either way i'm really looking forward to it.  On the other hand, i'm really NOT looking forward to getting pepper sprayed at some point.  I'm gonna try and get videos of both my redman fights and me getting pepper sprayed for you all to enjoy.  Thats all ive got for now, keep checking back the fun stuff is just starting to begin!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What a shitty week...

Well, we all learned a VERY valuable lesson this week. Do NOT, and I repeat DO NOT piss off your Sgt because he will allow your life to become a living hell. The week started off well enough, not a lot of differences from the previous weeks. We typically have bad days on Monday because we get lax over the weekend and have to be whipped back into shape on Monday morning. Tuesdays are pretty easy for the most part and as long as we don't mess up to bad the rest of the week goes pretty smoothly.

As one of our instructors likes to put it, "we let the wheel fall off" on Wednesday. Fell off my ass, we drove the car off a cliff and blew it to oblivion on Wednesday all before 10am. The morning started off with two tests, one on alcohol beverage control laws, and one on communication skills for LEO's. Right off the bat we had two people put their scantron sheets in the wrong piles our tests were then supposedly put through the shredder and we would retake both tests in essay form on Friday morning... wonderful... next came PT, where we were going for a 4 mile formation run on a new route. Just before the run our Sgt gave us our guidon too (a flag designed by our class to carry when we are in public to show pride in the department and our class, they're a pretty big deal in the police and military world). So we start out our run and we are about 2.5 miles into it and all hell breaks loose people start falling out left and right, the formation starts breaking down, our instructor stops calling cadence because we weren't sounding off, and then not more than 30 minutes later our Sgt takes our brand new shiny guidon away from us. So much for class pride... from there our Sgt slows the run down and takes us into a park away from the prying eyes of the general public. Once in the park he threw our guidon on the ground and instructed his team to do their worst for the next 15 minutes. We then proceeded to attempt to push the ground all the way to China... after that our Sgt proceeded to tell us he wouldn't be sticking around for the rest of the day and was telling his team to continue the punishment until he came back at the end of the day. Grrrrreeeeeaaaaattttt...

And so began one of the hands down worst days of my life... from there on out for the rest of the day, if we weren't in class we were getting physically destroyed. Most of our time not in class was spent in what's known as the Roman chair position (squat position with your feet at a 45 degree angle, knees touching, back straight, arms held straight out in front of you with elbows locked, and head up) while holding one volume of our training manual which weighs about 8 pounds, and if you've never tried to hold 8 pounds of dead weight straight out in front of you for at least 10 minutes at a time, ill save you the pain and suffering and let you know that it sucks BAD!! It's Sunday and my legs and shoulders still hurt...

From the time our Sgt left until he came back we screwed up everything we could possibly screw up, and the punishment kept getting worse. By the end of the day we were squatting in a baseball catches position and passing 25 pound weights from the gym back and forth from one end of the squad to the other while reciting 10 codes.

At the end of the day our Sgt was back in the building, but he didn't talk to us again nor save us from punishment until Friday at lunch. It's a bad feeling to know that your Sgt is so disappointed in your performance that he can't even talk to you about how disappointed he is. By the end of the week the flames were mostly out from the wreckage, and we'd put one wheel and one lug nut back on but we are still a long way away from being back to where we were before Wednesday. One of the other recruits said that we are one of the worst classes at running to date and we are going to be doing a lot more of it from now on.

In other good news from the week, the tests we took werent actually shredded, that was just to make a point and I was the only person to get 100% on both tests!!! On Friday we got another period of instruction on firearms, and we now get to put our holster and magazine pouches on our duty belt and carry our bright red plastic training guns so we can practice drawing drills whenever we get a chance. Today we had an off duty PT session at the academy led by us where we ran the POPAT (police office physical assessment test) which I couldn't even finish in the time limit when we ran it originally in week one, today I ran it in 5 minutes 5 seconds which is a pretty respectable time considering the time limit is 7 minutes 20 seconds and the fastest person in our class ran it in 4 minutes 25 seconds the first time so I'm pretty stoked on it!!

I'll leave you with my quote of the week...
"if you didn't win, you didn't try hard enough"
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

PT, PT Everyday

It was one hell of a week for PT this week. We had PT four out of five days this week, and I ran at home 3 days after work too. Needless to say my body begging for Friday night by Thursday morning. Monday we went for a 3.5 mile run which i fell out of (still suck at running, and I always will but I'm trying hard to be able to stay in formation all the way through!), then Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we had PT inside where our instructors have begun to introduce martial arts moves or SCAT (subject control and arrest techniques) as the police department calls it.

Wednesday was lots of fun, we broke out the kicking pads and started working on shin kicks to the side of the knee, and knee strikes. On a side note females are never allowed to sit by eachother, be next to eachother in formation, or be partners for anything throughout the academy and I ended up with a female as my partner for our first striking class to hold my pad. The female I was paired up is a scrawny woman about 5'10" and maybe 100lbs soaking wet, wearing a fully loaded duty belt, and after making several trips through the line at golden corral... then there's me, the 235lb former Marine with a decent amount of hand to hand combqt training. We were instructed to only kick at exactly 62%, and even at that I was afraid I would break this woman in half... So every kick the woman gets pushed 2-3 feet to the side and has to scamper back over to get in place so I can kick her again. I felt pretty bad about it to be honest...

Thursday didn't focus a lot on SCAT, but was mentioned in passing a few times in reference to what we learned the day before. Thursday we played "PT poker" 5 card stud to be exact... Our Sgt had a deck of cards (which we all assumed was loaded...) and he dealt out five cards one for each of the five exercises on the sheet (burpees, 4 count push ups, flutter kicks, up/downs, and air squats). If it was an ace that got turned over we did 15 reps, face cards were 10 reps, and 5-10 were face value, 2-4 were replaced by 8 count body builders instead of the other exercises. We played 5 hands for our squad leaders, 1 hand for our Sgt, 1 hand for our PT instructor, and 1 hand for all of the training staff not present. If you wanna get destroyed physically do this workout. It's lots of fun, but you'll feel it in the morning.

Friday was full of LOL moments... we spent Friday learning how to fall down from a standing position, and how to fall and roll while running. If you want to see hilarious, show up to a police academy the day they teach this... we had to break down how to do a somersault to every little step, and people were still failing miserably at putting their hands and head on the ground arching their back and rolling forward. Having been falling from decent heights riding BMX since I was 6 I'm a natural of course...

The best news is that the academy is starting to get fun! We are really coming together, and i think I may have finally found that feeling I've been missing since I left active duty back in 2008. I've got pride in my job, I love being in uniform again, and I care about the people I work with and their success. Everything happens for a reason and its finally clear why I didn't get the firefighting job in 09 and why I got the job at 911 which pointed me to the PD. Now I just gotta survive until July and hit the streets!
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Friday, February 4, 2011

good cop... naked cop...

Our instructor showed us this after a break today... I LOL'd, hope you do too!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Complacency kills

Well, found some time mid week to drop a little knowledge on ya. defines complacency as such; feeling of quiet pleasure or security.

Just a heads up, this is no way for a class to feel on week 5 day 2 of the hardest police academy in the state. I could feel it in the air this morning as I walked into the locker room to don my uniform and prep myself for the day, the lackadasical demeanor was almost palpable in the air. It continued throughout the pre roll call duties... People were screwing off during the flag raising (which I take particular offense to having fought and sacrificed for that flag), somebody put white out on the sign in sheet because they signed in next to the wrong name, and a couple other things I forgot...

Well the morning kicked off perfectly in sync with the tone set by the recruits as always. We got destroyed for people screwing around during colors, and then a two person lab table got THROWN across the room because ONE person didn't sign the second sign in sheet before it was handed in again, just to be torn in half and crumpled up so we could try a third time. On top of all that we've set a standard that only 5 people can miss 10 codes during inspection, and we had 10 misses which when you add a 0 gives you 100 exercise repetitions, then factor in the fact that we didn't meet our standard and you double it to get the final count for what we owe our Sgt, 200. Today was nowhere near our highest number, just fyi.

So what changed from Monday to Tuesday you ask? Mindset... Monday was a great day for us, we finally had EVERYONE pass an academic test on the first try (one of the hardest in the academy at that), we had a good PT session in the morning, we only had 5 misses on 10 codes during inspection, our uniforms looked great, and our Sgt hooked us up because of our stellar performance and we left before 5pm for the first time since the academy started. It's easy to get lazy and COMPLACENT with all of that praise, and I really friggen hope we learned our lesson. Our instructors gave us two choices from the beginning, we can be smart or we can be strong and its our choice.

Let's hope for a better day tomorrow.

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