I was a bit busy during the last week so I'll give a recap:
On Monday (01/09), we spent seven hours taking the State Peace Officer Certification test. This was a cumulative test of all of the things we learned over the past 16 weeks. It was exhausting but not too difficult.
After the test, our class ran a traditional mountain trail known as 'Warrior Hill'. This is a very steep and rock trail that sucked the life out of me. Most of my classmates had to walk (or even crawl) at the very top but I was able to run the entire time (albeit very slowly). My carpool partner capped of the run with a pleasent session of vomitting. Our sergeant commended him for his hard efforts.
On Tuesday (01/10), we learned how to conduct building searches in two and three person teams. We practiced making entries into various types of buildings looking for bad guys while avoiding getting into crossfire positions with other classmates.
We then got to put on heavy pads and shoot at each other with simunitions (live rounds with a paintball tip). This showed how difficult it is to concentrate and reload an empty gun while someone else is shooting at you. We were spaced about 20 feet apart with nothing to hide behind. I was nervous at first but really had fun during the drill.
Lastly, we were armed with our paintball guns and had to respond to a few different scenarios being acted out by members of the SWAT team. These were deadly force encounters in which every day situations become life threatening (like the suspicious guy parked in a car that decides to jump out and start shooting for no reason). I learned a lot during these drills about constantly looking for cover and expecting anything to happen.
On Wednesday (01/11), the class participated in the long mountain run. This was a 9.25 mile run to the top of South Mountain and back. It took several hours but was worth the effort. Some of my classmates never thought they could make it to the top but we all did.
That night, we had a graduation dinner for class members, a guest, and our staff. It was nice meeting spouses, fiances, and other family members of my classmates. I had been working on a speech all week that I delivered from atop one of the outside picnic tables. I wrote two rhyming lines about each member of the class (and the staff) with one complimentary line and one embarassing line. My classmates and their family members enjoyed it and kept telling me how funny and accurate my observations were. Here's an example of one:
"Cheerful, enthustiastic, honest and never betraying-
If only he'd slow down when he talks, I could understand what the hell he is saying"
I had to come up with verses for 44 different people which took many hours -but it was well worth it when I saw how much everyone enjoyed it.
Thursday (01/12) the class played several games of volleyball against the academy staff. The recruits won a game but the staff proved to be a bit better than us. After the games, we had a leisurely barbeque. This was the first time I remember being able to actually enjoy lunch since we usually have about 15 minutes to eat.
It felt great to be in the last regular week at the academy. The normal stress was lifted and we were all having a great time together (class and staff). It also started to sink in that I wasn't going to be seeing my classmates anymore. Even though I'll see some of the recruits, I'm going to miss the ones going to different agencies. Over the last 16 weeks we went through many difficult and stressful times together. We established a strong brotherhood and I will never forget them.
I'll post a separate entry for Friday (graduation day).