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Becoming the Badge: The Law and the Mountain

With a monumental task of learning the penal code ahead of them, the recruits head out to take on another uphill mission. A mountain run. Credit: KFOX14

El Paso police recruits hit their one month mark in the academy. The class is down six recruits from day one and dozens of pounds.

Now they’re taking on their biggest challenge yet, the law.

“This week's probably been one of the most challenging,” said 40-year-old company commander, Damian George.

It’s all thanks to the Texas penal code.

“There are so many laws I didn’t know existed,” said Anthony Greer.

“It’s like a different language,” said recruit Jesus Lucero.

It’s one of the most important, if the not the most important thing these future officers need to know inside and out.

These are the laws they will be entrusted to enforce and uphold every day in El Paso.

“Now I know why lawyers go to law school for three years,” said George.

But it's not just memorization

They need to know how to apply the law in each unique situation they'll inevitably encounter.

“The quality of time you put in is the quality of life you have as an officer. If you don’t know your material it’s going to be very difficult to make arrests and articulate what offenses you have,” said lead instructor, Jeremy Ontiveros.

Again, recruits will have to score an 80 on the penal code test to avoid an infraction which could lead to termination.

“You don’t want anyone going out knowing 70 percent of the law,” said Ontiveros.

With a monumental task of learning the penal code ahead of them, the recruits head out to take on another uphill mission. A mountain run.

From the academy gates, down scenic drive and then the climb begins.

Lead instructor Sgt. Jeremy Ontiveros pairs up with Lucero, who's fallen towards the back of the pack.

“If you want to be here you gotta show it. Gotta prove it,” he says.

For recruit Sarah Tew, the run is pushing her to her breaking point.

“My body is just breaking. My heart keeps saying you have to keep going,” said Tew.

Her hair has fallen out of the tight bun female recruits are expected to wear.

Which will lead to an infraction.

“I get a lot of corrections, I’m scared, I’m nervous,” said Tew.

But stopping isn’t an option. For any of them.

They'll have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, master one law at a time, to reach the top.

Next Sunday night, the recruits get physical as they learn how to defend themselves in the streets.

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