We are following recruits on their journeys to become Tucson police officers, diving into what they see and feel along the way.
Behind the Badge, the series:
When we last saw these recruits, they had just started their physical training. Since then, they have really turned it up a notch.
Week Seven of their 24-week training brought their first Padded Assailant Training.
The class involves TPD officers volunteering to play the role of a noncompliant suspect violently resisting arrest for one minute.
Its part of the academys training to subdue someone posing a threat.
First thing I think of [before the challenge] is to breathe, because thats what they teach us to do is just breathe, said recruit Alexandra Corrales. You gotta really get yourself under control before you go into the situation.
Recruits were told a generic scenario before donning head gear and fighting gloves, then meeting their assailant in a padded room.
[Instructors] were saying that an individual pushed over the clerk at the Circle K and we had to go and address it. Try to get them arrested because they did have an assault, said recruit Arlene Olguin. Thats all the information you have to go in. You dont know if theyre going to attack you. You dont know if theyre going to say, OK, yes, Ill put my hands behind my back. You go in completely blind.
My assailant is an amazing fighter, Corrales said with a chuckle. Ultimately I went to what I was used to, which is ground movement. I wrestled throughout middle school and high school, so I went kinda towards that. The striking, I think, is the hardest part for me.
Recruit Nich Flynn says he tried to keep his mind focused on the basics during his one-minute fight.
Dont stand still, because if you stand still, youre done, he said afterward. Thats the only thing that was kind of going through my head.
Today was a great crash course of whether or not you actually know how to apply the stuff they were teaching you.
But its not only body positioning and physical techniques. It starts in the classroom, and learning
to use force.
This recruiting class learned about the Graham Factors,: Severity of Crime, Threat to Officer or Others, and Resisting by Fight or Flight, and that only one of those factors can justify using force when subduing a suspect.
Your mind just starts to work with you. And its just like, Im allowed to do this, but Im not allowed to do this, Olguin said. One thing that our instructors have told us a lot is you have to read the room. So if you see that theres a man, their fists are clenched If you read the room and you think, I might be in danger, then you might have to use a little bit more force.
Even in training, injuries happen. Two recruits left the training center with injuries during the class, helped by a medical team ready to respond.
In this program, and after they graduate, these recruits know the risks are real.
I did not expect that to be as tough as they were, Olguin said. But when you go out into the field, you are expected to fight anybody, anywhere. You just gotta be prepared for whatever comes and whatevers thrown at you.