Bad Luck Cadet #13 – Gun Fights and Car Chases is part of my Bad Luck Cadet Series that follows my adventures at the police academy after my mid-life crisis. The first in the series is Bad Luck Cadet #1 – Accidents Happen. It’s all about fun, laughter and PAIN!
We had been told several weeks earlier that our defensive tactics gun fight was coming. This seemed to be a highlight for the instructors. We didn’t know what to expect and I was already exhausted. Thursday morning turned out to be the day.
We were each paired up with someone of similar body size. This left Donna and I as a pair. She was in better shape and I felt it an unfair match. At the same time, the odds that I would ever have a fight on the street, for my gun, with someone my size was extremely slim.
I’ve seen car video of police officers in fights with angry speeders, drunks and assorted bad guys over their guns. It is a deadly serious scenario. You have thirty pounds of equipment including vest, gun, Taser, pepper spray, and baton. Each one of these is potentially deadly in the wrong hands. And each one weighs against you in the fight.
Our training fights began with the cadets forming a circle around two fighters to keep them on the mat. If the fighters got too close to the mat’s edge they were none to gently pushed back on. The only rule was “There are no rules.” We were given no mouth or head protection, since we would have none on the street. The fights were brutal and the blood on the mat cleaned off between each match.
One “blue gun” is placed at the center of the mat. Both fighters lay down prone, facing each other. First one fighter takes a grip on the gun with one hand and then the second fighter does the same. Then the first fighter places their other hand on the gun followed by the second fighter. Once all four hands are on the gun, the fight begins.
When it was our turn, Donna and I did as instructed. The guys had been waiting for this and cat calls and friendly cheering ensued. I had watched the other fighters closely. It seemed a lucky elbow in the nose ended the fight sooner. A head butt did too, but was devastating to the recipient.
As soon as the whistle blew I pulled my face out of the way. Donna and I were wrestling on the floor with everything we had. I was determined to get my feet underneath me. I had figured that if I could manage the leverage to pull away while she was still on the ground I could win.
We continued wrestling and our legs and elbows were doing each other damage. The adrenaline was keeping us from feeling the majority of the pain. Donna got a good hit in my chest with her knee and it knocked the wind out of me. I had suffered the feeling several times in my life and knew not to panic. The air would be back before I passed out. The strike enabled her to get her legs beneath her and pull up using the mat to stabilize her legs and backwards momentum to possibly win.
This was it, do or die. I swung my body around on the mat and planted my legs on either side of her chest. Before she could kick me in the groin I shoved with everything I had while holding on to the gun for dear life. My chest expanded at the same time. Donna was shoved to the outer rim of the mat with no gun in her hands.
I had won. I rolled over on my side trying to get more air in and trying to get my arms and legs underneath me. It would have been easier if I released the gun, but I had won it and I wasn’t letting go.
Our fight lasted four minutes. It was the longest four minutes of my life. The guys were cheering like crazy.
What is it about a girl fight that gets them going?
When everyone’s match was finished, we were divided into two groups; the winners in one and the losers in the other. The winning group was congratulating each other and I was getting a lot of back slaps. I don’t think any of them thought I would beat Donna.
We didn’t expect what happened next.
The losers were given a punishment. They had to write a letter to their families telling them why they died that day. The letter had to be turned in the following morning to our squad leaders.
Up until this point we had been taught we never die. When we put our uniforms on to head out for duty, our number one goal was to return to our families. Staring at the other group and thinking about what those letters would be like was devastating. You could see the defeat on their faces.
We silently left the gym.
Later that afternoon, we noticed some unusual activity in the hallway, outside our classroom door. The leader from squad six and our class leader, Cadet Clark, were called to Sgt. Dickens’ office. About twenty minutes later Cadet Clark came back into the room and collected the squad leader’s personal items. We never saw the squad leader again and a new one was chosen for squad six.
The rumor would later circulate that the unfortunate cadet was caught lying on his police application, and when his background was closely examined, the lie came out. He would never again be eligible to apply as a police officer in the state of Arizona. We were now down to twenty-eight cadets.
That evening, Donna typed her letter. This was psychological torture for her and I watched her cry the entire time. She wasn’t angry at me. Donna had a six year old son at home, and addressed the letter to him. She cried for hours and I had a hard time getting her out of her funk. The letters were never sent to family members, but it was a hard lesson whether you won or lost.
Friday was uneventful. There was no retaliation for my smart ass paper on following orders. But I didn’t feel as satisfied with my wit any longer. Reality was crashing down.
I headed home to spend time with my husband. He was lonely without me and I managed to pull myself out of a pain induced stupor and take a day trip with him on Saturday. I cleaned my house on Sunday morning and then headed back to the academy at noon for some much needed study time.
It was now the beginning of week seven and our first in a two week driving course. Our classroom time was cut in half and we headed to the driving track.
Before the training I thought I was a good driver, but I learned an entirely new way to approach driving situations at the academy. I never considered the difficulties of police driving — that is, having to turn the stirring wheel with one hand, while holding a microphone in the other and trying to speak into it, without getting everything twisted up. Like everything else at the academy, the training was very intensive but it was fun as well.
The phrase “stopping on a dime” had to have been invented by cops. We learned to stop, swerve, and make “J” turns, while being shot at with paintball guns. Our windows had to be down so we could actually be hit if we didn’t do what we were shown. It was fun, exciting and for some cadets painful.
Driving instruction made the two weeks speed by (pun intended), but it didn’t stop our anxiety over the approaching ninth week. We were facing our three hundred question midterm test and our first practical tests, where we would have to act out pretend scenarios with play actors. This was all “do or die” testing. If we didn’t pass the midterm we would be sent home. If we didn’t pass the practical tests we would be sent home.
Oh yeah, we also had our first official POPAT agility test. We would be given two times to pass POPAT, the first was week nine, and then a final time one week before graduation.
I stayed at the academy that weekend practicing POPAT, studying, and applying ice packs. My stress levels were at their breaking point.
My adventure continues with: