We are very pleased to announce that the AHPD has hired a new officer: Nick West. In these times it is unusual to be hiring police. Like many other departments we have lost a significant number of personnel. Given the economic uncertainties we were not comfortable hiring. We reduced our staff due to retirements and were very happy that we had no need to lay off sworn personnel. In total we are down about 12 personnel which is a serious dent for us. We currently have one other person who is attending the police academy and we expect him to graduate in June. At that time, he’ll be sworn in as an officer. Officer West is new to the area since he is a recent Air Force veteran. He graduated from the Oakland Police Academy in December. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice but has never worked as a police officer.
At the moment he is assigned to a Field Training Officer in a very formalized on-the-job training program. The training takes about 4 months if all goes well. He is assigned for approximately one month to each of the 3 shifts with a different training officer. He’s taught how to apply what he learned in the academy to the real world. In addition we want him to learn our policies and procedures. Like the circumstances under which we would initiate a vehicle pursuit or when we wouldn’t, how we view use of force and our standards for engagement, how we handle domestic disputes and all the myriad number of incidents that come into the life of a police officer. It is a complicated process. Everyday he is rated by his trainers on a one to 7 scale, one being not satisfactory and 7 being completely satisfactory and the level we would expect from a solo performing patrol officer. At the end he is rated by a training officer who rides with him and observes his work–it is very much a test to determine whether he can remain as an officer. He is asked to study the laws, the elements of the offenses, city ordinances, geography of the city so he can get place to place as quickly and efficiently as possible as a few examples. We are measuring how he thinks on his feet and how he treats the public. Our standards are high and well they should be. He has been to the firing range and qualified with his department issued pistol so that we are confident that he knows how to use it if necessary as well as his Taser and all of our other tools. On the road he is also responding to as many varied types of calls as possible and stepping into as many arrest situations as can be found on his shift so that he can learn as quickly as possible.
Officer West worked long and hard to get to this place. We had hundreds of applicants and interviewed scores of people seeking that right combination of intelligence and personality. I never tire of watching new officers be sworn in. We invite their families and friends to watch this important moment that signals the start of a career. As many of our command staff attend as possible as well–we know how important this is, for him, for us and for our community. It is the day they receive their badges and pin them on their shirts for the very first time. For a person who dreamed of being a police officer since they were a child, it is the culmination of a long held dream.