Lubbock police will soon have 33 extra police officers patrolling your neighborhoods, but the process to get to that point is gruelling. NewsChannel 11 brought you a six month series on three recruits that passed the academy and are now just a week away from being on their own and on the streets. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel spoke with the recruits about their transition from recruit to officer, and found out that it wasn't what they expected.
Olivia Lopez, Jonathan Tutino and Kody Nesbitt are coming to a neighborhood near you. The three recruits, turned officers, are a week away from heading out on their own. Officer Lopez says, "Everyday you learn something new. You think you can go to a call and know how to handle it and then something else pops up."
The recruits have been through nearly a year of training to get them to this point. Officer Tutino says, "The things you learn in the academy are really a base to build on. When you're on the street it's really hands on."
Training begins with 23 weeks of classes at the academy, then 16 weeks of field training with a supervising officer. If a recruit passes all of the steps, they get assigned a car and a beat. And that's where all the training comes in.
Tutino says, "There's no such thing as a routine traffic stop. You could pull someone over for a simple tail light violation and you could get a big drug bust or felony warrant."
But the most surprising thing to these new officers while being on patrol is the amount of crime lingering all over Lubbock. Tutino says, "I was really surprised the amount of drugs that go through Lubbock. But they're not really localized like most people think, there are small parts all over town."
Officer Nesbitt says, "I think for the most part people think Lubbock is crime free, and for the most part it is, but I think people would be very surprised at the number of calls we take on a daily basis."
The constant calls show the need for more officers. Right now, 33 officers will be added to the streets. The current academy has 36 recruits. But Lubbock police still need to hire and train about 60 officers to meet the goal of two officers for every one thousand citizens.
Nesbitt says, "We do a good job of covering up so people know we'll be there when they call."
More officers would mean more patrolling, but Lopez says the department does not sacrifice quality for quantity. "There are a lot of things people don't realize. We're not just out there arresting people or giving tickets, we're out there protecting the community. We're out there doing what we can do to prevent crime."
The current academy class is expected to graduate by January, which would put them on the streets by May. Another academy class is tentatively scheduled for July 2006.
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