You’re Not Dead Until I Say You’re Dead! is the 15th installment in my Bad Luck Cadet Series.
I wish I could say the next two days of Practical tests went as smoothly as the first, but it didn’t. I struggled with two of the scenarios, and completely failed one of them. In the one I failed, I was driving a patrol car and came upon a vehicle pulled to the side of the road with its hood up and a man standing with his head buried in the engine. I pulled over behind the vehicle, activated my emergency lights, and called dispatch with my location.
I approached the man, asking if I could help. He straightened up and began shooting at me with a cap gun. The gun looked and sounded real, which scarred the hell out of me. I stumbled back a few feet trying to remove my gun from my holster as the man continued walking towards me and firing. I probably took six bullets directly to the chest, before my gun was in my hand. I stood my ground, firing two shots, but the guy just stayed where he was firing back at me. I turned to the instructor and said the fatal words, “I’m dead.”
All hell broke loose. Sgt. Dickens was standing to the side of my vehicle, and he blew a gasket.
“You are not dead, you never stop fighting. You’re a fucking loser Cadet Ivy, and I should kick your ass out of the academy right now.”
I stood frozen. I wanted to bury my head in the dirt and cry. Sgt. Dickens told me to get the fuck out of his sight and I left. What a disaster.
I felt I was lucky to even be given a second chance but I was. During the remedial scenario things were changed up. I walked into a “store”, answering a dispatched call for a disorderly female customer. I could see the clerk and problem maker ahead of me but I was stopped by a man coming from behind, placing his arm around my throat, and putting a gun to my head. The disorderly female pulled a gun and shot the clerk. I did as I was trained and grabbed the barrel of the gun at my head, pushing it away from my head, turning in my captor’s arms, shoving him away with everything I had, and then running for cover while pulling my gun.
The significant difference that allowed me to pass the second scenario was running for cover while removing my gun. The first time I had stood frozen while going for my gun and never sought to get away or find cover to continue the fight. In real life I probably had little chance of surviving either scenario but the instructors wanted to see our thought process during the events. Standing my ground and shooting was not what they were looking for.
It wasn’t until I found out that three quarters of the class failed that first specific practical, that I felt somewhat better. I’m surprised Sgt. Dickens had a voice left, apparently he yelled at all of us and threatened to kick everyone out.
My other mistake of the day was missing a small gun while searching a suspect. The gun was on a chain around her neck, in her cleavage. I managed to grab the gun as she was pulling it out to shoot me, but I was pissed off at myself. I had performed a bad search on a female suspect of all things. After that incident, my searches were extremely thorough and I found two additional guns during the following scenarios. One was literally underneath a suspect’s penis. I located it, removed it, and found some satisfaction in shaking everyone’s hand before I was able to wash my hands.
My last scenario on Friday was with simulated weapons (SIMs). A small group of us were waiting outside the driver’s track building and we were able to pick partners. Rocco was in the group so we partnered up. When our turn came we geared up with head, chest and groin protection. I could barely breathe in my face mask. We were also handed SIMs guns with rubber bullets. These guns fire and launch a rubber bullet and leave a colored chalk mark on what they shoot. We were warned it would be painful if we took a hit.
When it was our turn, we walked to the front of the building, and were told to enter the abandoned building to search for a trespassing vagrant. Rocco and I began the search. The building was dark and we used our flashlights. We had our guns drawn, looking and listening, although all I could hear was my loud, too fast breathing. We searched room by room. There was a small closet and Rocco opened the door as I peered inside. My gun came up and I began shouting commands. There was a man standing inside, next to a water heater. He had his weaponless hands, visibly crossed, in front of him. He put his hands up and complied as we talked him out of the closet. The scenario was over and so were the practical tests.
Rocco and I went back to the classroom and it took about an hour for everyone else to finish up. We were all telling each other which tests we had passed and failed. Everyone made mistakes. We were all upset over the pop gun incident and no one felt as if they’d aced it. Donna had not returned and I didn’t find out how she did until we were released, she came in and sat down right before our scolding started.
Sgt. Dickens came into the room after we were all assembled. He was pissed off and stated there were forty three guns missed in searches. He asked everyone that missed a gun to stand up. Everyone stood. Some missed more than one. We were given forty three hill runs to be completed the following Monday.
Sgt. Dickens also told us two cadets shot an unarmed man and these two cadets needed to consider if police work was right for them. He told us in real life the two “officers” would not only lose their police certifications but would be prosecuted for homicide.
The judges next reviewed specific scenarios and we were praised for how we handled ourselves throughout the two days. We were told to be proud of the job we had done. This was hard due to the angry look on Sgt. Dickens’ face.
Donna and another cadet were called to the Sergeant’s office when we were given permission to leave for the weekend. I waited for Donna before taking off. She was crying when she entered the room.
She told me she shot the unarmed man in the closet with her SIMs gun. Sgt. Dickens told both cadets they needed to think long and hard over the weekend about being police officers. I consoled her and said Sgt. Dickens was an ass. We both packed our laundry and took off for our homes.
Donna called me that weekend and told me she was not returning. She was sorry to leave me alone, but she could not take it any more. The thought of being prosecuted for homicide was more than she could take and her mind was set.
My son also announced he had taken a job in Phoenix and would be moving out in two weeks. He barely spoke to me and refused to ask about the academy. I loved him dearly but his attitude hurt. I didn’t know if he would ever see me as my own person and not just his mother. My daughters were both proud of me. Letty, my oldest had announced her wedding date a few weeks earlier. She already had an apartment of her own. Cassie, the youngest, was doing well in her first semester of college. She had left for Tucson when I left for the academy.
With Roger moving out, my house would finally have just my husband and me under the roof. In some ways this was a blessing but it was sad as well. My husband would be alone during my last nine weeks at the academy. I worried about him. He said he would survive but was counting the days until my graduation.
Driving back to the academy that Sunday was hard, and I had a heavy heart. My friend would not be there waiting for me. I cried for her and myself. I realized becoming a police officer was about inner strength. I made the drive slowly not wanting to face my empty dorm room. I still had Rocco and I was determined he would pass POPAT. I was not graduating without him and I planned on graduating.
If you want to follow my adventures at the police academy from the beginning, start with Bad Luck Cadet #1 – Accidents Happen. It’s all about fun, laughter and pain. To be honest, at the time, it was more about pain, pain and pain! — Suzie
My adventure continues with: ~ Bad Luck Cadet #16 – No Jerking Off on My Range!
Wow, intense! Poor Donna! Riveting post….thank goodness you still have Rocco and he has you!