NewsWest 9 Special Report: What It Takes to Become an Odessa Police Officer
February 14, 2014 at 5:46 PM CST - Updated July 9 at 10:45 PM
By: Alexa Williams NewsWest 9
ODESSA - They're here to protect and serve. But before the boys in blue can guard the streets, they have to endure months of testing of their own.
"Several nights they wont go to sleep they'll be up half the night, they'll be up studying. It's emotionally draining, it's physically draining and mentally," Steve LeSueur with the Odessa Police Department, said.
"It's a lot of information thrown at you real quick and you have to grasp it and you have to dedicate yourself to learning the material," Academy Recruit, David Yelton, said.
The Odessa Police Academy trained their first recruits back in August of 2010. Since then, the academy has become VA accredited meaning recruits with military experience receive more incentives. The program draws in future officers from not only around Texas but also out of state. Odessa Police tells NewsWest 9 that having your own academy is a plus but Odessa's training is even more unique than most. The Odessa academy actually learns and trains in the basement of the Odessa Police Department.
"They get to interact with patrol and with the detectives in real life situations," LeSueur said.
The current academy, academy number 8, started in January and has 15 recruits. The class is already making their mark on Odessa Police. Five of the future officers are females, the most the Odessa academy has ever had at one time.
Juliet Bostick said that wearing a badge runs in her family but she said her gender wont hold her back.
"I feel like the women in this industry definitely have to work harder and show that we can do just as much or more as the males in this industry. I think we have a big role in this academy, we all work well as a team but we have some great females in this academy," Bostick said.
There's a lot that goes into keeping our streets safe. In fact, according to the FBI, Odessa ranks 71st for the most dangerous cities in America. These young recruits train for six months straight. Everything from learning all the laws to physical training. Even learning how to drive those cool cars. It's more than just turning on the sirens you never want to see in you rear view mirror. Odessa Police say the academy is hard work but it's all for one reason.
"If you can't handle it in the academy, you cant handle it out in the streets," LeSueur said.
The academy has two schools every year but unfortunately Odessa Police still struggles with a police shortage. Currently, the force is about 30 officers short. One of the main reasons for the loss is the oil boom.
"Unfortunately with the industry that we're in and the economy that we're in, we're losing guys to other industries. They're pursuing other careers" LeSueur said.
But even though they are a few officers short, they say the streets are still fully covered every day and night.
"Guys are working and volunteering and working overtime from other shifts to fill in all the openings, all the spots that we need every single day," LeSueur said.
Academy number 8 still has a long way to go until you'll see them protecting the Basin. The young men and women will graduate this June and will be on probation for their first year after they get sworn in as officers but they said they couldn't be more excited for what's to come.
"I'm looking forward to just getting out there and intermingling with people and just trying to serve the public as best as I can and help save peoples lives," Yelton said.
"First off I just want to be a great officer. It's always been a dream of mine to be either a K9 officer and follow in the footsteps of my father or become a SWAT member, I mean there are so many things you can be but becoming a good officer is number one," Bostick said.