SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – To become a police officer in Utah, new cadets must pass the state police academy. ABC4 News is giving you a rare look inside the academy, in this edition of Behind the Badge.
Becoming a Utah police officer right now is a job in high demand.
“This year and last year are the busiest we’ve seen in a long long time,” said Lt. Chris Newlin, Utah Dept. of Public Safety, P.O.S.T. Basic Training Bureau Chief.
Lt. Chris Newlin with the Utah Department of Public Safety runs the state police academy, called the Peace Officer and Standards Training, or P.O.S.T. All cadets in Utah must pass P.O.S.T. to be certified. Those who set their sights on wearing the badge go through 16 weeks of intense training, learning everything from how to uphold the law to tests on physical fitness, shooting accuracy, or how cadets respond to road scenarios they’ll soon see on the job.
“Can they apply the law, in the way they’ve been taught, in a realistic scenario? And how do they treat people? Are they polite? Are they respectful? Do they manage conflict appropriately? Can they de-escalate the situation?” said Newlin.
Some cadets going through the academy say it’s a tall task.
“What’s been the challenge?” Reporter Brian Carlson asked cadets.
“I’d say academics. The classroom stuff is pretty tough,” said Carlos Landaverde, Utah Highway Patrol cadet.
“The thing that I’ve found the most challenging are these scenarios, it’s kind of hard to remember everything little thing that you’re supposed to do,” said Steven Layton, Utah Highway Patrol cadet.
However, for some cadets, like former Marine Trevor Pollei, hired by St. George police, the academy is exactly what he expects.
“Harder than you thought?” asked Carlson.
“Ah, naw about where I thought it’d be,” said Trevor Pollei, St. George Police cadet.
On shooting accuracy he’s near the head of his class.
“I shot a 246 out of 250 this morning, it’s the second highest so far in our group,” said Pollei.
Every year roughly 350 new cadets pass through the state academy, trainers say for the 90% on target to graduate, their training is just beginning.
“Police training does not end after those 16 weeks, most officers go onto their agencies and there’s a period of time where they’re trained by their agency, then they go onto field training or on-the-job training for most of their professions,” said Lt. Newlin.
By the time they’re done they’ll have spent at least a year or more learning the job. Those ABC4 News talked to know the long road ahead and are eager to start.
“You feel you’re ready?” Carlson asked.
“I feel I’m getting there,” said Layton.
“They do a good job of teaching us,” said Pollei.
“It’s challenging, but they prepare you really well for stuff that can happen,” said Landaverde.
Trainers said what they learn and how well they perform at the academy becomes the foundation for their career.
To give you a better look at what cadets must do to pass the academy reporter Brian Carlson went through some of the training. They gave him the same tests, all the physical fitness requirements, and had him do the same scenarios cadets are required to pass. Next week on ABC4 News at 10 p.m. we’ll show you what it takes, and how well Carlson did.