Exclusive: Inside the Denver Police Academy with 1 week until graduation

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DENVER -- The first new Denver police officers in five years are just one week away from graduating from the police academy.

They are being trained to expect the unexpected. Over the course of the six-month academy, they get crucial training to build certain skills, including driving, building searches, and arrest control techniques.

FOX31 Denver has been granted exclusive access to the police academy for the entire training. Recruits are now almost ready to join the force.

Police officers never know what to expect when they roll up to a call, so they train for absolutely everything imaginable ... starting with how to drive a patrol car.

Technician Devin McGinty said, “You can’t arrest people if you can’t get there. You have to get there. You have to get there safely.”

The recruits get a lot of time behind the wheel, sometimes only using their mirrors, sometimes driving fast. All while being timed, with penalties for hitting the cones.

Technician McGinty said, “Obviously, it’s a benign environment out here, you hit it, it’s a cone, no big deal. You can see they hit cones all the time, but what we’re trying to teach them is you hit something on the street, that’s an accident. It causes damage, it costs money.”

Another skill set the recruits are taught: how to search a building.

On the day we caught up with them, they were responding to a scenario of a burglary in progress, where the door was open.

The recruits go carefully, room by room, looking for suspects. They seem a little timid during their first attempt. Sgt. Layla Desteffany said, “They’re learning a new skill and every new skill just takes time. It’s a new skill set for them and we’re just trying to build some muscle memory right now as far as the physical maneuvers they have to do We’re starting off with the basic stuff right now, as they get more comfortable, we’ll add more radio calls. We’ll add more suspects. We’ll probably add some weapons scenarios so when they go on the streets. They have a background and familiarity with it.”

She said safety is the most important thing, including never letting down their guard and keeping their eyes open for other dangers, even after they make an arrest.

Recruit Jay Casillas said, “I think it’s just putting yourself in the mindset to pretend it’s a real situation to get the best out of the training ... you think it’s not real, it’s not going to help you when you get out on the streets.”

Finally, they work on arrest control techniques and taking people into custody.

After two recent high profile cases of suspects slipping away from officers, it’s key now to make sure these recruits are trained in how to properly handcuff a suspect.

Technician Aaron Brill tells the recruits, “This is where  you slow down ... get your hands righ ... get your hands right.” Recruit Alexis Aranda said, “I’m excited to see what’s coming, every time it’s getting harder and harder, I just keep pushing myself to be that much better.”

The recruits get ten days of training in each skill area, with each day getting a little bit harder. Technician Aaron Brill said, “Going into it you’re always apprehensive and a little worried about how you perform but when you come out the other side of this, you come out more confident and better prepared.”

Graduation is October 23. We will continue to follow the recruits through graduation day and give you exclusive access to the Denver Police Academy.

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1 Comment

  • fast45

    Required classes: 1. Beating up citizens for no reason.
    2. Shooting family pets.
    3. Lying, falsifying reports, perjury.
    4. Bully attitudes 101.

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