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I graduated number one in my Academy Class and met my FTO that first day considering my six month probation period a waste of my time and the city’s money. In my department FTOs were men in their mid to late thirties with, on average twelve to fifteen years experience working uniformed patrol. Interestingly they were the only “blue suits” that wore corporal stripes and as I noticed the first night, at role call, occupied a special spot in the shift’s pecking order. They didn’t have the authority of a patrol sergeant, but the other officers accorded them almost as much respect as the division’s watch commander (a Lieutenant).

Even though felt I knew as much about police work as the division commander (a Captain) who just happened to be bigger than life, a former combat Marine who left Tarawa with a Silver Star, picked up a few more decorations on Okinawa before earning a Purple Heart and leaving the war on a stretcher, only to return home, join the department and apparently earned so many departmental commendations and awards that he ran the hottest district in the city as the youngest Captain in the department’s history. Not only that, but as the story goes he flatly refused to ever let his name appear on a promotion list for Major, because he didn’t want to leave the district and work at headquarters. Yup I felt great! “The Captain and me were going to do great things for the department and this city I called home”. You can imagine my surprise when the ole corporeal and I finally got to our car and the new course material was explained to me in exceptionally brief detail. Basically it went like this, he told me, “I am your field training officer, that means I’m a real deal police officer. You may carry a commission card attesting to the fact that you to are a commissioned police officer with this department. Well that card is a lie. Around here your still a recruit, in act you are a recruit still on probation and these two stripes give me the authority to walk into the Captain’s office and pass judgment on you and if I so determine suggest to the Captain that you can’t cut it out here and we better cut you lose now so you’ll still have time to go and become an FBI Agent. We are supposed to live together in this car for at least six months maybe more. I know I’ll be living in this car six months from now, but I’m pretty certain that I’ll have a new roommate by then and you’ll be kissing old J. Edgar’s ass. Now you see that little black thing hanging on the dash? That’s called a microphone. Pick it up, push the button and tell the nice lady that we are ready to go out into the night and pretend to earn all that money the city is paying us”. He always drove and I always handled the radio and wrote all the paper, everything except the confidential weekly fitness report that he wrote and personally delivered to the Captain. Later hat first night he also explained to me that he was a very religious man and felt that his was the most morally responsible job in the department since as he saw it, it was his responsibility to keep me alive while making sure I didn’t kill to many innocent citizens.

Now this is the part of the story I want all non-LEOs to read carefully. Corporal Jahns made it clear to me that in the Academy I learned a few Amendments, the Constitution (which he considered to be a sacred document), a bunch of state criminal statues, and the vehicle code. He further illustrated with a variety of visual aids that I had spent the last few months in the police academy not the UCLA Law School and while I had better have a lot more personal integrity than those “Land Sharks” in training at the law school I had better not start believing I was a criminal lawyer and if he observed me beginning to think like a lawyer and not a police officer then after he kicked my ass and threw me out of the car he hoped I could find my way back to the division, because it would be a long walk.
 
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