It's been over 2 years since I graduated from the police academy. On Monday, I will perform my first official duty as an FTO (Field Training Officer) when my OIT (Officer in Training) reports for duty. He'll be assigned to me for the first several weeks and will be graded daily on his performace. New officers are on probation for the first year and are especially vulnerable during the FTO process since they'll be terminated if unable to meet the standard evaluation guidelines.
I drove to the academy to meet him a few days ago. I and several other FTO's from various precincts arrived to introduce ourselves to the newly graduated class of recruits.
As I walked into the room I had a flashback of waiting to meet my FTO. I was nervous and anxious at the same time. I felt confident back then (finishing at the top of my class) but was still concerned about slipping up, looking stupid, or not meeting the expectations of my trainer. I knew there was a big difference between the academic success I had and the 'street smarts' I lacked. I was glad to be assigned to a great FTO who taught me more in 4 weeks than I had learned in 16 at the academy.
I had reviewed my OIT's file before I came to meet him so I knew what he looked like. I read his bio and several essays he had written during the academy. He seemed sharp, enthusiastic, fit, and respectable. When I entered the room I spotted him right away. He and many others were finishing up some paperwork so I stood at the back of the room and waited with the other FTO's. He nervously glanced at the group of us and was surely wondering which one was assigned to him.
I approached, introduced myself and gave him some brief instructions for his first day at the precinct. I felt his apprehension the same way my FTO probably felt mine. We talked for a few minutes and then I was on my way.
When Monday arrives, we'll both be out of our comfort zones. I want to be successful as a trainer and he will be my measuring stick. His ascension to solo-capable officer and performance thereafter will be a direct reflection on my training. It's a strange feeling to be responsible for another officer's safety, learning, and future career. Especially when I still feel like a rookie myself sometimes.
I hope in two more years from now I can boast about the success of my first Officer In Training(and hopefully many others to follow).