ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Odessa police officer recruits trained at the Odessa Police Academy Thursday. The week-long training includes malfunction and reload drills to get them ready once they hit the streets.
"We're trained to protect ourselves, to stop the threat," said Range Master Sgt. Carlos Chavez with the Odessa Police Department. "We don't wake up every day and say, 'Hey, we want to be in a shooting.'"
The recruits will have to learn what to do before getting behind the gun. Chavez said the way they train is the way they're going to fight out on the street.
"We do the firearms training to protect ourselves, the public, assaults from other bad guys who are going to come and try to shoot you," he said.
Ten out of 19 Odessa police officer recruits trained for a handgun, shotgun and rifle shooting where they understand the fundamentals of firearm safety.
"You want to make sure you're proficient with your shots," said police officer recruit Malcolm Anders.
If they don't make their shots, they don't pass the firearms portion.
"If you can't shoot, how are we going to let you pass during the academy if you can't hit your target?" said Chavez.
Under the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement, recruits must qualify with a 70% or above in their handgun qualification.
"Once the bullet leaves their gun, it has their name on it," said Chavez. "They're responsible for that round."
"I've always wanted to be a police officer since I was six," said Anders.
Anders hopes the training can not only prepare him for the worst but put a different perspective to the community.
"You will never understand African Americans until you are one. But as well, you'll never understand an officer until you are an officer. I get the best of both worlds. I see both sides. It's not the fact they're out to get you because of your color," said Anders.
"I've seen a lot and I've experienced a lot," said recruit David Parker.
Parker retired from the Odessa Fire Department eight years ago and still works with the Ector County Medical Examiner's Office. He is now hitting another angle continuing his experience as a first responder.
"I've learned so many things at the police academy that's going to make me better at my job," said Parker. "From the perspective of officers that are there on scene, it makes me a better team player."