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Recruit School #11: Week 4

July 31-Aug. 5, 2022

Author: CO recruit writer

Sunday at 1800, we line up outside of the Michigan State Police training academy. The instructors have been hinting that this week will be the hardest physically and mentally for the majority of us. Water safety is a huge part of becoming a conservation officer and so we need to gain these skills that we will use for the rest of our careers.

Recruits stand in line outside of building

Photo caption: Recruits report back to the Conservation Officer Recruit School Academy every Sunday at 6 p.m.

Monday started with a 5-mile run. Later in the morning, we began water safety by reviewing basic swim techniques and water skills. In the afternoon we had a “crimes in progress” class, an introduction to the types of crimes a CO responds to. Finally, in the evening we had a legal review for the upcoming legal exam retakes. Recruits have one chance to retake an exam.

People exercise with rowing machines in gymnasium

Photo caption: CO Danielle Zubek (pictured to the left) rows with recruits during a circuit training exercise for morning physical training.

Circuit training kicked off Tuesday morning, which consisted of stations in the gym, including rowers, kettlebell swings, toe to bars, medicine ball slams, hanging from the bar and goblet squats. Then it was into the tank (swimming pool) – for day two of water safety. We covered basic rescue techniques in the water and a review of the previous day’s material. In the afternoon, we had a “patrol area check” class, covering details and techniques that a CO needs to consider every time they’re on patrol.

Recruits pull each other as water victims

Photo caption: Recruits practice towing each other as water victims.

Wednesday started with open swim in the tank for PT, allowing us to practice the techniques and skills we learned so far. During water safety, we learned passive victim rescues (how to rescue an unconscious person from the water) and then for a fun change-up, we ended with relay races. Afternoon class was “preliminary witness interview,” with CO Danielle Zubek. She covered steps needed to properly approach a scenario and interact with one or multiple witnesses while beginning our investigation.

Recruits practices submerged unconscious water scenario

Photo caption: A recruit practices recovering a conservation officer water safety instructor from the bottom of the tank.

Thursday began with stretching for PT, critical in the academy. CO Jeremy Cantrell explained that proper stretching is critical throughout the recruit school. This physical training session may have been the best so far because it helped my body recover from the previous days of physical training and swimming.

Recruit pulling person during water training scenario

Photo caption: A recruit practices pulling an unconscious person towards the side of the pool.

Water safety covered victim extractions from the water, and we also learned that we can complete hard tasks in the water, such as removing our uniform. The weight of a uniform is very heavy and can create a lot of drag, making it difficult to swim while in the water. If a CO accidentally falls into the water, it may be necessary to remove their uniform.

Thursday afternoon was a class about “suspect identification procedures,” with CO Zubek. We were instructed on the basics of identifying suspects and how attention to detail carries over to every aspect of investigations.

Thursday evening is the legal exam retake from the previous week – a stressful time for anyone who has to retake it. If you fail the retake, you are dismissed from the academy.

Recruit talks to instructor about how to evaluate man on ground

Photo caption: A recruit (on the right) talks through the steps of accessing an academy staff member, who was pretending to be an unconscious water victim, with Recruit School Commander Sgt. Jason King (on the left).

Friday morning began with circuit training and a run. The final day of water safety concluded with an intense training scenario bringing together all we had learned this week. Afternoon class was computer safety training, where we learned proper use and care of our state issued devices.

Week four was a long and draining week, making the weekend feel very deserved.

Read Week 5.