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Becoming the Badge: Crimes and Courts

EPPD academy.jpg

Early on a Saturday morning, more than a dozen El Paso police recruits are bonding over books.

They’ve formed a study group, to help each other succeed on their next test.

On Monday morning, they’ve got a big test on the Texas Penal Code, the laws they’ll need to uphold.

“This test is really going to show who's going to stay,” said recruit Sergio Soto.

Failing will lead to a write-up.

“I’m really nervous,” he said.

The study group is helpful for recruit Jose Lucero.

“Different people have different points of view on what they’re reading,” said Lucero.

“We help each other out on the weekends, I think I see (other recruits) more than I see my own spouse sometimes,” said Anthony Greer.

By the middle of the week, the recruits have moved on from Monday's exam and are tackling team-building workouts.

When the day ends, many recruits stick around for tutoring.

This week, they're learning the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“We've taught them what the offense is, but now, what’s going to happen once you put cuffs on somebody?” said Detective Alex Dominguez.

A 19-year veteran of the department, Dominguez is teaching the course on the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“In that classroom are the future leaders of this department,” said Dominguez.

If the recruits thought penal code was hard, “A class of this nature usually takes a semester in college and they only have a week to learn it,” said Dominguez.

During this course, the future officers learn how an offense moves through the court system and which court handles which offenses.

Because being on the front lines of crime means the wheels of justice start with them.

“Anything they do could be critical to a case,” said Dominguez.

For the instructors, preparing the recruits for police work is personal.

“The academy has its standards and then I have my own standard, where I’m thinking, 'you're going to be the officer responding if my family dials 911, so you better get over that wall,'” said Dominguez.

Come next Monday, the recruits will face a tough test on this course.

“There’s no cliff notes, no shortcuts,” said Dominguez.

“It’s intense. It's almost shocking,” said Greer.

So back the library they go.

Next week, the police recruits will have to prove they’re physically fit when they take their first fitness test. And failure will lead to a write-up.

Plus, the recruits will get up close and personal with narcotics most of them have never seen before.

That's next Sunday night on Becoming the Badge.

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