Becoming the Badge: Finding the Truth


This week on Becoming the Badge, the remaining 64 police recruits are tackling investigations and interrogations.

The focus is on solving crime, but it’s also giving recruits a chance to think about the career paths they could take, once they join the ranks.

Earlier in the week, the 122nd class said goodbye to two recruits: Sarah Tew and Jesus Lucero.

“We aren’t safe yet. We have to keep pushing, putting in 110 percent,” said recruit Vanessa Bermudez.

Putting pressure on the remaining recruits.

“This is more than just a job, it's definitely a calling. If people come in thinking it's just a job, then they get an eye-opener really quickly,” said recruit Damian George.

This week they’re diving into crime scene procedure and evidence collection.

“This week was super fascinating for me,” said Bermudez.

They're learning how to process fingerprints -- something all patrol officers can do for minor offenses, like a car burglary.

“If they process a vehicle and we get a print hit, that’s what leads to a suspect,” said academy instructor, Detective Candace Pacheco.

This week, seasoned detectives are training the class on investigations.

“This is my time,” said Pacheco. Pacheco has 11 years on the department.

“Today I taught burglary, robberies, that’s my forte. That’s my bread and butter,” said Pacheco.

She's teaching recruits the important role they'll play in helping detectives.

“They are the front line of that. Whatever information they get from the initial call can sometimes dictate how the rest of the investigation will go,” said Pacheco. “If they don’t find a key piece of evidence that was left behind and overlook it, that can be detrimental.”

It’s a week many in the class have been looking forward to.

“Some of them have aspirations to be a detective. You can see the ones that have the interest,” said Pacheco.

As recruits envision what their future in the department could look like.

“I want to be a detective one day that'll be great and working so it's complicated cases like that,” said George.

“That's always been one of my things, I want to become a detective,” said recruit Sergio Soto.

Recruits Vanessa Bermudez and Samuel Quattlebaum are drawn to the forensics side.

“That's where I would hopefully go in that direction in the department, is going to go to crime scenes because that's me. I'm pretty good at (physical training) and some people would say I'm a jock. But I'm actually a nerd,” said Quattlebaum.

“This is exactly why I want to be a police officer,” said Bermudez.

“A lot of them will tell you, ultimately, I want to become a detective. Well that’s great, but to become a detective takes many years,” said academy instructor, Detective Alex Dominguez.

Before recruits can get there, they'll start as patrol officers.

“A criminal investigation starts when they respond to the incident themselves; the minute they arrive on scene the investigation starts,” said Dominguez, who's been on the force for 19 years.

“If you’re like me, you like solving puzzles and mysteries,” said Dominguez.

He’s showing recruits what their role will be once they arrive at a crime scene.

“Separating victims, separating witnesses, if possible try to locate an offender,” said Dominguez.

And the difference between interviews and interrogations.

The main message for recruits: solving crime is all about finding the truth.

“A good investigator, a good detective, is going to be completely unbiased,” said Dominguez.

“As police officers, we're looking for the truth,” said Soto.

“I don’t get my emotions involved with it. I’m just there to prove the facts,” said Detective Judy Oviedo with the department's Crimes Against Children’s Unit, who also spoke to the class.

They demonstrated different interrogation styles.

“I think it was a little shocking to them how we have to talk to people to get people to tell us what we want to know,” said Oviedo. “You are trying to get inside of their head.”

Crimes Against Children resonated with recruit Anthony Greer as a career path he’d like to pursue in the department.

“I have a little girl, a 5-year-old girl, and she's my world. I would go to the ends of the earth for her. It just baffles me that there are people out there that will take an innocent child and try to hurt them any way they can,” said Greer. “Knowing that one day I could protect children, protect anybody, warms my heart.”

Now as the recruits are getting closer to that halfway point, the 64 are pulling together.

“I see a tremendous amount of growth. We don’t always let them know that,” said Pacheco.

Because their first goal is to graduate.

“They are right where we need them to be,” said Pacheco.

Next week, a female force. We’ll show you how the women of EPPD prove they've got what it takes in a male-dominated field.

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