Your entry to the police academy means you have
successfully completed all of the pre-employment
hurdles.  Depending upon the scheduling of an
academy class, you could begin the academy prior
to the completion of your background
investigation.  However, this is an exception to the

Once you’re accepted to the academy, your police
department has every expectation that you will
complete the training successfully.  That conclusion
has been reached by evaluating interviews, testing,
and investigation.  Therefore, you should not be
apprehensive about your ability to successfully
complete academy training.

There could be one bump in the road when it comes
to firearms training.  More than a few police recruits
enter the academy with no prior experience in
handling firearms.  Again, if you’re one of these
recruits, don’t be apprehensive.  Your firearms
instructors will provide any additional help needed
to bring your firearm’s proficiency to an acceptable
Your entry into the police academy is a milestone in
your pursuit of a police career.  In fact, in some
instances, you’re already a police officer vested with
full authority under the law.  You gained that status
the day you took your oath of office.  However,
don’t take that status literally; you should
reasonably avoid any situation which would require
you to take any kind of enforcement action during
your academy training outside the immediate
supervision of an experienced police officer.  I
mention this because you could find yourself
witnessing a circumstance where police intervention
may be required.  Short of an imminent life
threatening situation, you should do what any
concerned citizen should do… call 9-l-l.

When I and my classmates entered the Baltimore
Police Academy, we were issued the standard police
uniform with two exceptions:  the trousers were
khaki instead of the standard blue uniform
trousers.   Since it would be seven weeks before we
would receive firearms training, the khaki trousers
readily identified unarmed police recruits to other
police officers as well as the public.  After seven
weeks and our completion of firearms training, we
were issued our police revolvers along with blue
trousers.  Even though we now looked like police
officers, we still had four months of training ahead
of us.  The salient point here is that you should
keep a low public profile during your academy
training.  Outside of training, you should not wear
the uniform with the possible exception of
commuting to and from the academy.
Keep this in mind.  Even after six months of
intensive police academy training, you’ll only be at
the very beginning of a career long learning
experience.  You don’t want to become involved in
any circumstances that could complicate your
academy training.

To say that your decision to insert yourself into an
incident could complicate your academy training is
an understatement when you consider your
environment compared to mine when I was a police
recruit.  If I had taken action that turned out to be
wrong, unnecessary, embarrassing – use any
adjective you like –, there weren’t any number of
digital devices recording and exposing my
inexperience and lack of knowledge to ridicule from
thousands if not millions of people.
The national average for police academy training is
21 weeks.  Some will be shorter in duration with
others as much as 27 weeks.  Figure on spending 6
months in classroom and practical training

Generally, you’ll commute daily for training.  The
exception is state police academies which conduct
their training on a more military style model.  For
example, if you’re attending the Massachusetts
State Police Academy, you’ll reside on site in a
dormitory and begin your day with a morning run at
5:30 am.  Your classroom instruction will last until
8:00 pm.  You will get personal time from 8 pm until
lights out a 9:30 pm.  This will be your schedule
Monday thru Friday.

More police academies are providing college credits
for your classroom instruction.  If you complete the
Maryland State Police Academy, you’ll have 45
college credits toward a degree.  That’s a big deal
when you consider the cost of a four year degree.
Classroom; Firearms, and Field Training

There’s a significant difference between a university
environment and a training environment.  The police
academy is a training environment designed to
provide you with as much training as possible
crammed into a relatively short period of time.  If
you enter the academy with a preconceived notion
of police work that runs counter to the training,
you’ll only be doing a disservice to yourself.  Keep
an open mind and concentrate on retaining as much
of the training as possible.

Classroom Training

There is no possible way for training alone to
prepare you completely for all the variations of
circumstances you’ll encounter as a police officer.  
However, training will provide the basis for you to
analyze and adapt to ever changing situations and
circumstances.  For example, you’ll learn how to
establish probable cause upon which you can make
an arrest.  Then there’s reasonable suspicion which
is a standard less than probable cause which can,
through succeeding events or investigation, rise to
probable cause.

You’ll receive instruction about the administrative
functions of the police department to which you
must adhere.  Most police recruits have no idea how
much writing is awaiting them.  Whether it’s on a
computer screen or paper, you’ll be writing
everyday of your police career.

Firearms Training

Most police departments issue magazine fed semi-
automatic pistols of 9mm or .40 caliber with a
capacity of 15 to 17 rounds of ammunition.  In the
early 1990’s these weapons began replacing the
standard police issued .38 caliber six shot revolver
as police began encountering more and more
suspects armed with high capacity semi-automatic

You’ll find that police department firearms
instructors are a particularly picky bunch.  They’ll
expect you to pay attention and follow instructions
to the letter.  They’ve established a training regime
that leaves no room for debate.  When it comes to
firearms training, it’s about safety first and

Field Training

A lot of police departments now incorporate the
Field Training Officer (FTO) into your academy
training on a more sophisticated level than in the
past.  Depending upon your police department’s
FTO program, the FTO can have a significant
influence over your successful completion of the
police academy.

While the FTO is expected to evaluate your
performance objectively, any one on one
relationship can develop subjective measures.  Even
if you feel you’ve drawn the FTO from Hell, it will be
your responsibility to develop and maintain a
professional working relationship during your time
together.  Remember, you’ll be on your own soon

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Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker  
"Keep this in mind.  Even after six months of
intensive police academy training, you’ll only
be at the very beginning of a career long
learning experience.  You don’t want to
become involved in any circumstances that
could complicate your academy training."
~ Barry M. Baker