Whats the Academy like Sarge?

    So you if your reading this your looking for more information regarding “The Academy”. The academy is your first real test in your career. You are now a recruit officer. At my department recruit officers start at $55,362 and after 18 months get paid $58,130. The academy is 24 weeks where the recruit officer will receive a lot of training. Firearms, Active Shooter training, CPR, Vehicle Skills, Physical Training, Defensive Tactics are just a few areas a recruit officer can expect to learn. Law enforcement in general is a para military career, which means we share a very similar rank structor, chain of command, and uniforms as the military, so for those non military applicants, this could be a wake up call.

    Applicants have asked me “Sarge, can you tell me what the average day is like?”. The average day stars at 0630 with morning formation and roll call. Think as formation as a morning ceremony where your recruit class will march in the the gymnasium, line up and have their uniforms inspected by the class Sergeant. Uniforms must be pressed, boots shined, brass shined, name tags evenly placed, if not expect your class to be dropped (push ups).

    After formation you can expect to head to a classroom and have morning lectures on a variety of subjects ranging from community service, Code (law), General Orders (rules and regulations), etc. When I was in the academy they separated all these subjects into levels. The class will spend time learning level 1( DC Code). After a couple of days learning level 1 you take a computerized test, and you need a 80% to pass. If you fail, thats strike one, and in the academy, three strikes and your out. We had roughly 10 levels before we were done with the academic portion. After academics, expect your class to start defensive tactics.

    Defensive tactics is just that, defensive tactics. You will learn how to fight, whether you like it or not, and in my opinion they need to spend more time on this subject. After “DT’s” you go to whatever specialized training is available, whether its vehicle skills (recruit favorite) or firearms training. Firearm training is two weeks, vehicle skills is five days, and they will be the most fun you’ll have in the academy. Mixed in with all this specialized training will be your daily dose PT or physical training to get you ready for the final PT test.  Expect long runs (3-5 miles), push ups, sit ups, etc. I hated PT but its something you have to do graduate so just suck it up and deal with it.

Academy prep: Be able to do the following day 1 and you’ll be fine

  • 2 mile run in under 17:00
  • 40 push ups
  • 50 sit ups

    That pretty much sums up a typical day. If any of you have any specific questions regarding the academy leave them in the comment section. I will be having more detailed “Academy” posts in the future.

Fall Out.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire!

    About 8 years ago my partner and I receive a call for a “local alarm”. Local alarms are basically fire alarms in our world. 

    We arrive in front of the large 11 story building and make the mistake of parking in front of the location. We jump out of the car and make entry to the building through the front lobby area where we meet up with two other rookie officers. People were walking around the lobby area casually, some were sitting in dilapidated sofa’s in the lounge area, so the lack of panic or general concern led me and my co workers to believe that this might be a false alarm.  I asked the dispatcher what floor the alarm was coming from and she stated the sixth floor.  The four of us hopped in the elevator and pushed the number six, and the doors closed shut. I remember smelling a slight hint of smoke at the time but dismissed it as the elevator started its ascent.  The ride up to the sixth floor last seconds and when the elevator settled and a muffled “ding” sounded the doors opened and we were all in disbelief.

    As the doors opened we were all silent as we were looking at a hallway fully engulfed in thick dark smoke. Instinctively, I began spitting on my cotton undershirt, pulled it over my mouth and used it as a makeshift mask.  Myself and another officer walked quickly down the hallway knocking on residents doors to start evacuating them. Visibility was near zero as we explored the hallway with one hand, as the other held my undershirt mask securely to my face. I knocked on one apartment door and a loud “What the fuck do you want?!” erupted through the door. “Police get out, get out!” was the only thing I conjured up as I didn’t have the luxury of having a conversation with anyone. “You have a warrant?!” she replied. “Fire! Fire!” I yelled in disbelief  as I moved down to the next door. I extended my arm to knock on the last door in the hallway but there was a problem, visibility had gotten so bad I couldn’t see my hand. I was at a door frame but couldn’t understand why I couldn’t see a door. It was because it was open, and this was the apartment that was the source of the fire.

    Not being able to breath or see for that matter, is a pretty scary situation for a rookie cop to be in. I’ve never been in a situation like that personally or professionally, and I didn’t know what to do. I just knew I had to try and get people out, so I walked very slowly and made entry into the apartment. It must have been one or two steps before my foot came into contact with the first victim. Still pitch black, I bent over using my right arm to explore what I had just ran into and felt a human shoulder, lying on the ground. I tilted my head down in an attempt to keep my mask in place as I needed to two hands to drag him out. I put my hands under both of the victim’s armpits and started walking backwards. Another officer was in the hallway and I passed the victim to him and went back in. I remember the huge plumes of smoke emanating out of a bedroom and visibility getting worse in that direction and I could see light coming from my left, so I decided to walk towards the light in hopes for better visibility. Visibility improved slightly when I noticed I was in the apartments kitchen, and the light that was guiding me was a large fluorescent ceiling lamp. As soon as I processed the fact I was in the kitchen my foot hit something again. I reached down and could see it was another body. I attempted to repeat the same process but as I was adjusting my makeshift mask, it slipped off just as I was inhaling. For those of you lucky enough to have never been in a situation like this, as soon as you take your first breath of smoke you begin to cough. Each additional breath you take, the cough gets worse and worse. I knew my time as a rescuer was coming to an end.

    I stood back up and a sense of panic came over me as I placed my shirt back over my face. This time my hand was not letting go of the mask, if it did other rescuers might have found me laying next to the victim on that kitchen floor. I reached down with my right arm and my hand buried itself in dreadlocks. I grabbed as many locks as I could and locked my hand in a fist it was time for me to get the fuck out of there I remembered. I dragged the victim by her hair to the hallway where the other officer was and he took over and dragged her the 25 yards back to the stairwell. The lady regained consciousness while she was being dragged back and I asked her if there was anyone else inside, she replied “I don’t know where my kids are at!”.  Back inside I went for the third time, by this time the fire fully engulfed the master bedroom. I lost my bearings when I tripped over the living room couch, and I started to wonder if what I was doing was just stupid. I couldn’t find the front door due to the smoke but I did see daylight coming from the sliding glass door that went out to a small 5ft balcony. I crawled my way to the door and opened it and rolled out and caught my first clean breath of air for what seemed to be 15 minutes, in actuality it was less than seven. As I stood up I found myself staring at the business end of a rescue ladder that was being extended up by of the fire department. The firefighter that was operating the ladder rested the end right on the balcony railing, a pretty impressive feat. I walked up to the ladder, looked down and thought to myself “there is no fucking way i’m climbing on that thing”. I looked down and one of the fire supervisors with a large cigar in his mouth yelled up to me and said “jump on you pussy”.  As I weighed my options, two firefighters opened the glass sliding door, one carrying an extra mask with oxygen. He slipped the mask over my face and walked me out the front door and back down the stairwell to the lobby. As I walked, unassisted back towards the front door, other firefighters and their supervisors were running past me suited carrying axes, generators, and halligan bars. As I placed my hand on the lobby glass door, I glanced up at my reflection and saw that I was covered in soot, as if I was working in a mine for the last eight hours.

    I stepped out into the sea of fire apparatus and stepped over a dozen charged lines, glanced over to the back of an ambulance and saw the two people we pulled out of that apartment, and the three of us made eye contact. The woman was lying in the stretcher with what I assume is her husband wrapped in a blanket breathing from an oxygen mask.  They had no idea who I was, or what we had just did and I didn’t care I just wanted to make sure that everyone was ok. I walked over to a group of responding officers who all gave me high fives and made little jokes here and there. There was a Sgt on scene who asked if we were all ok, and stated that we would all receive life saving medals, the departments 4th highest honor it can bestow on an officer. It would take my partner and I another 5 years before we would get this honor, except it was for another assignment. 10-8 back in service. The fire departments fire investigator later told us that the fire was started by a lit cigarette in an ashtray that fell behind a television in the master bedroom.

FUN FACT: The picture at the top of this post was taken while I was outside on the balcony after the scene was declared safe by the fire department.

So you want to be a cop? 4 Things to Think About!

    There no doubt about it, being a cop today is as difficult as it will ever be.  Joining our ranks will be difficult and you WILL have to make some sacrifices along the way, but if you can adjust to some of these sacrifices, law enforcement will be the most rewarding career you will ever have.

Some of the sacrifices Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s) have to make:

Separating yourself from friends and sometime family members that will have a negative influence on you.

    We all have those people in our lives that didn’t make the transition to being a responsible adult, and thats ok. What you, being a future or current recruit, need to do is cut those people from your life. Being a police Sergeant, we deal with A LOT of problems with our officers, personal, professional, we deal with it all. I cannot count the instances where I have had to say to younger officers “You can’t hang around people like that, you have too much to lose.”  Putting yourself in sketchy situations can often lead young officers to be put on “non contact” status pending termination when all they had to do is stay at home that night. 

Your schedule will suck

    As a rookie your schedule will suck……really suck. This career is seniority based and when you graduate from the academy and FTO (Field Training) you won’t have any. Be prepared to work the worst shift, with the worst days off. I had Wednesday and Thursday off for 7 years before I got a piece of the weekend. I worked with a lot of officers who were not ready for that and left my department thinking the grass will be greener somewhere else, it isn’t. You will also have your days off canceled to work protests, sporting events, crime emergencies, you name it, we work it, so be prepared. The reason I have this in the blog is to plant the seed early in your career that your schedule will be up on the air, its just one of those things that big city police departments can’t really control. 


Stress comes with the job, if you can’t handle it like the rest of us, do everyone a favor and keep searching for another job. Being able to deal with stress is absolutely pivotal in our job. You will see what society doesn’t want to see, dead children, horrific homicide scenes, car accidents, rape victims, burn victims, felony traffic stops, foot pursuits, high speed pursuits, and all things related to domestic violence, and you have to take it in, process it and still be able to make functional, lawful, and appropriate decisions while staring it in the face. and being able to de stress is just as important, but thats for another post.

Yourself, for the safety of others

As a LEO, you must and I repeat, you must to the best of your ability, ensure everyone working your shift goes home at night. I have encountered numerous officers who stood there and watched their partner get into a fight with multiple suspects and did nothing. Im sure you veteran officers can chime in down in the comment section and confirm that this happens everywhere, and is totally unacceptable. We LEO’s are all we have on the street, and it is your duty to put it all on the line for your co worker.  As a young officer you will find yourself in a situation where you will be totally out of your comfort zone, scared, and frozen with an officer needing your help. If you let the fear drive your decision to stand there and do nothing to help the officer in need, you need to find another profession. Veteran officers would respect you more if you recognized that this job isn’t for you and turned your badge in early. 

As always please leave a comment below.  Fall out. 

Who Needs a Tourniquet?

Myself and two co workers were at a Subway ordering food when our priority tones sound through our shoulder mounted microphones. The call for service was a domestic violence assault in progress at a location that was only blocks away from our lunch, it was around 2:00am.  We arrived on the scene within seconds only to see an adult female laying on her back in the middle of the street with another female straddling her, stabbing her repeatedly with a 10 inch butcher knife. We all jump out of our cars  the suspect sees us, gets up, tosses the knife and flees on foot. Thankfully a rookie officer fresh out of the academy still in running shape, chased the suspect down and caught her, myself and my two co workers approached the victim.

    The victim was laying on her back and she was just staring at the overcast layer of clouds 1,000 feet above her head. Her eyes affixed in one place as if she was staring one star in the sky, her mouth gasping for air. We rapidly assessed her condition, and immediately called for the fire department to respond. While they were enroute we counted 14 stab wounds that spanned from her upper chest to her lower legs. Wounds to her chest were troubling but not as troubling as the one in her upper right leg. The blood soaked her white jeans and turned them darker than the asphalt she laid on, she was hit in her upper right inside thigh lacerating her femoral artery, we knew from our training that she would be dead in 2-3 minutes, but we all smelled alcohol coming from her shallow breaths and knew that her death would come sooner.

    None of us had medical kits on us as our department was in the beginning stages of issuing them out to us but hadn’t made it to the streets yet.  We all looked at each other with a look of helplessness telling her everything would be ok and the paramedics were on their way. We all knew she was going to die and we all had front row seats. I looked at my partner and we both had a look of “we have to try”. He didn’t have to say anything we both dove in and got to work. My partner took his pocket knife and quickly sliced open all of the victims clothing. Each stab wound barely bled, and you can see the depth of which the knife entered her body. I remember seeing layers of fat in each wound and remember saying to myself how could anyone survive this. We knew we had to stop the bleeding from the artery and we all knew the only way we could slow it down was to put a tourniquet above the wound in her leg and twist it until the bleeding slowed.

Those of you who don’t know what a tourniquet is, its as a piece of material that can be wrapped around a limb and tightened down to restrict blood flow.  The only thing between this victims life and immediate death was our ability to come up with a solution, and the biggest light bulb went off in my head. I turned around and noticed a civilian walking down the street watching what we were doing, I turned to him and yelled “give me your belt!” the man quickly took his belt off and gave it to my co worker who then gave it to us, we wrapped it around her upper thigh between the knife wound and her heart and tightened it down. She screamed with pain but we didn’t care, we knew it was going to save her life, and saved her life it did. The medic unit arrived on scene and kept our makeshift tourniquet on her leg until the trauma team at a local hospital took it off, life saved, dispatcher we’re 10-8, back to Subway parking lot we all went to finish our lunch.

    Word of our actions reached the news and two of us were interviewed by two local news networks, we all received the department’s life saving medal for our actions that day. The suspect was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon and is currently serving 8 years, yes you read that correctly 8 years. Prisoners only have to serve 80% of their time now which is roughly six years, which you can be paroled at four and half for good behavior. Four and half years for brutally stabbing your girlfriend 14 times and almost killing her in the streets.

    Several months later we receive a call for a robbery and our stabbing victim was now the victim of the robbery and the three of us all showed up to see her, she had no idea who we were, we didn’t tell her what we did, we knew and that’s all that mattered.  She had no idea that the officers in front of her were the same three officers who months earlier saved her life, she was still wearing bandages screaming and cursing us out. This is a thankless job.

Attention to Roll Call!

Hello Sarge is a blog dedicated to the men and women of law enforcement, their families and loved ones. This blog was designed to share stories and perspective of our experiences on the street.

We here at Hello Sarge are all active duty LEO’s from a large full service police department in the Washington D.C area. We look forward to sharing some of our experiences from the street and to hear your stories as well! 

    As the blog grows, we will be introducing new content ranging from current police culture at our department, gear reviews, guest authors, interviews, and whatever you guys want to discuss or see in the blog.

Have a story to tell? We would love to hear it! Just post your story in the comment section, or email the Sarge and we’ll get it up on the blog. We will be posting 2 stories a week to get the ball rolling.

Take your assignments, please be safe.