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Recruit School #11: Week 8

Aug. 28-Sept. 2, 2022

Author: CO recruit writer

I and many other recruits were looking forward to week 8, a nice change of pace from the usual, stressful academy lifestyle. This week focused on emergency vehicle operations (EVO) and emergency vehicle maneuvers (EVM). The drive instructors created a relaxed learning environment to ensure everyone felt comfortable to learn how to safely operate emergency vehicles. Overall, this was a fun week full of adrenaline, excitement and speed!

black truck driving through cones, people standing to side

Photo caption: Recruits set up cones for one of the several cone courses they must qualify on to pass the drive training segment of their training. Recruits must successfully complete the course three out of the four attempts (photo from 2018).

Early Monday morning, we had physical training outside in the pouring rain. We were reminded by the instructors that conservation officers work in all weather conditions.

We started our drive training using Michigan State Police Chargers and then progressed to the Department of Natural Resources patrol trucks later in the week.

men sitting inside Michigan State Police vehicle

Photo caption: Recruits started their drive training using Michigan State Police Chargers before advancing to conservation officer patrol trucks at the end of the week.

The first day of EVO and EVM involved classroom lectures followed by practicing turns on the serpentine course (a cone course shaped like an “S”). This was fun and I learned a lot about the steering capabilities of patrol vehicles. By the end of Monday, I was comfortable steering a vehicle through the serpentine course and taking sharp turns at higher rates of speed – something all law enforcement officers need to know how to do safely for emergency situations.

recruits sitting in classroom listening to instructor

Photo caption: Recruits started their drive training in the classroom, learning about the different cone courses and maneuvers they would have to qualify on to pass their skills exam later in the week.

On Tuesday, we worked on evasive maneuvers and precision driving. These skills were more difficult and involved learning small details that make a big difference while driving. During precision driving, I learned just how important attention to detail is. Missing a simple detail, like not putting full steering input (the manipulation of the steering wheel to navigate the course correctly without overcompensating) at the exact right time, could mean the difference between hitting a bunch of cones and failing the course or not hitting any and passing. Recruits have four attempts to drive the cone course without hitting any cones. In order to pass, you have to drive the course successfully three times. If you don’t pass, you are dismissed from the academy.

wet pavement with water sprinklers and stacked tires

Photo caption: Recruits operate emergency patrol vehicles on a skid track to learn how to handle vehicles on slippery surfaces.

After an extremely rigorous and exhausting PT session in the tank on Wednesday morning, we continued the day with performance driving. This involved driving around the track at high rates of speed with emphasis on hitting apexes (highest point of a turn). This was a day full of speed and adrenaline. I learned a lot about the capabilities of the vehicles we were driving. I was surprised at just how fast we could turn the vehicles without spinning out. We ended the day learning to control a vehicle during a skid (which mimics a vehicle sliding on a slippery surface).

Thursday morning was full of anxiety ahead of the written tests and various performance evaluations that we had to pass to remain in the academy. It was a huge relief to learn that everyone passed all of their evaluations and written tests, which allowed me to relax and enjoy the rest of the week.

Once it got dark, we began night pursuits. For me, this was the best part of the week! It was extremely fun, and I learned a lot about night pursuits. My biggest takeaway was how dangerous they are and when to make the decision to terminate a pursuit.

Friday morning consisted of driving patrol trucks through cone courses and doing performance driving. I was fascinated by how the patrol trucks handled differently than the MSP Chargers. However, I was able to complete all of the cone courses successfully. To finish the evening, we learned how to back up different sized trailers at various angles. I hadn’t backed in trailers before this task – I was surprised at how well I did.

Even though this was a fun week, it was also a big hurdle that we had to overcome. The evaluations and tests were not easy and required a lot of studying and practicing. This week, we learned the importance in hitting apexes, speeding through straight and the handling of our vehicles. With this knowledge, I gained so much confidence in my abilities to handle our vehicles in emergency situations.

Read Week 9.