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Becoming the Badge: ‘Some of you shouldn’t be cops’

This week on Becoming the Badge, 66 police recruits are rolling into week nine.

This week on Becoming the Badge, 66 police recruits are rolling into week nine.

This week, they're going back to the basics.

As recruits balance report writing, test taking, physical training and their families, instructors let them know: that badge can’t belong to everyone.

Up on the mountain, English class is in session.

“Everyone thinks they know how to write, until it comes time to write a report,” said recruit Damian George.

“It’s taking you back to high school. Back to punctuation, report writing,” said recruit Jesus Lucero.

This week, recruits are learning how to write a good report.

“From grammar, to punctuation, it’s very important,” said recruit Anthony Greer.

Everything officers write can have an impact on the prosecution of a crime.

“Officers are the first to respond and see everything. They have to take witnesses' statements. It really starts with the officer that responds to that call,” said Greer.

Officers are often called to testify in court, when a case finally goes to trial-- which could be years after they wrote the initial report.

“If we have our reports to the ‘t’, it helps back us up and recall it,” said Greer about testifying in court.

Poor report writing could also cripple a case.

“People who are victims have the right to justice and it shouldn’t be a clerical error or that you messed up on a report that lets that happen,” said Damian George.

This week, in a surprise mock scenario, an active shooter interrupted the class.

Then recruits had to explain in detail what happened.

On the PT field, recruits are running log drills and sharpening their boxing skills.

“My body is exhausted and so is my mind,” said recruit Sergio Soto.

This week, recruit Sarah Tew said she fell short on test points again, which means another write-up.

“I’m like three points away from passing. I don't know what else to do,” said Tew.

Same for Jesus Lucero.

“I’m a little frustrated when we are coming short on points,” said Lucero.

Outside of the academy, recruits are balancing family life as well.

Many of these parents are getting their kids ready to head back to school.

“I'm glad school is about to start,” said Tew.

“My dad helped me register my daughter for school, because I wasn't able to do it,” said recruit Vanessa Bermudez.

Tew is registering six kids for school on her own.

“It’s all about time management,” said Tew. “I’m used to it. I grew up in a big family. I have 11 siblings.”

George said he's getting his 16-year-old ready for high school and trying to spend time with her.

“What’s enough time?” he said.

Soto doesn't have any kids, but he's noticed that in the process of becoming an officer, he’s lost friends.

“It hurts because I don’t have that many, so I hold a lot of my friends close to me,” said Soto.

Friends who aren't supportive of his new career path.

“If they don’t feel comfortable with me, they're never going to feel comfortable with me, especially if I'm just a recruit right now. If I do end up graduating, how are they going to feel even more so knowing I am a police officer?” said Soto.

And this week, recruits got a wake-up call.

“There are people in that classroom that shouldn’t be there,” said an academy instructor, Officer Joe Lopez.

Lopez told the class of 66 that not all of them should be cops and some of them don’t belong on the streets.

“Honestly, I’m kind of glad he said it,” said Soto.

“If he believes some people don't belong here, then I agree with him,” said George.

The class as a whole began to slack.

“We were noticing the guys who were leading from the front were just kind of content,” said Lopez.

As classmates became frustrated by some of the struggling recruits.

“In the sense that ‘we’re working hard to be where we are at and they are not and yet they are still here,’” said Lopez.

It was a message recruits took to heart.

“For an instructor, a police officer of 19 years, to say that not everybody is made for this job or cut out for this job,” said Greer.

“I don’t know if I was one of the people he was referring to. But you got to remember why you are here,” said Lucero.

“If you feel like I’m talking about you, then you're probably right. And if you feel somewhat inspired by what I just said, then it's probably not you,” Lopez told the class.

It’s no secret the city is severely short-staffed and badly needs these recruits.

But the department's standards for an officer can't ever change.

“I don’t want to die because someone wasn't able to help me,” said Soto.

Next week on Becoming the Badge, recruits break out the handcuffs.

And one recruit’s day will end with a trip to the hospital.

That’s next Sunday night on Becoming the Badge.

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