Field Training for New Officers

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Officers have been busy today thanks to the slick roads, but it’s a good learning experience for some of the departments newest members. Before the weather got bad, we had the chance to ride along with one of those new officers yesterday who were still going through field training to get an inside look at what it takes to become a cop.

Officer in training Kara Watson is sin the driver’s seat after more than 15 weeks of training in the field with seasoned veteran Officer Rob Hatfield. She’s almost ready to hit the streets on her own.

“It’s just training on top of training on top of training. There’s so many little things you don’t think about before you get hired that you have to learn.”

On Thursday, she patrolled busy parking lots, keeping drivers out of the fire lanes, and handled a case of credit card fraud at a local tobacco shop.

There are four stages to field training. Right now, the new officers are in the home stretch, where they handle 90% of the work, but it all starts with basic things, like learning to drive a squad car. By now, the trainees have responded to calls for pretty much everything including shootings, car accidents, and retail thefts.

“The more calls we can get them to the better, the more exposure to different kinds of things I think develops a more rounded officer,” said Officer Rob Hatfield.

Officer Watson says even once she’s through training she’ll still learn new things, but says she’s ready for the challenge.

“I feel as ready as I’m going to be with continuing to learn as I go through every single call every day,” said Watson.

The trainees still have about a month left before they hit the streets on their own.

The officers spend about 10 weeks at the academy, then another 6 weeks at city school before they start field training. Another group of officers just graduated from the academy, so they’re just getting started with their classroom portion of the Rockford Police Department’s training.

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