I wanted to be a cop.
I think if Corona did anything for me it was to repaint my view of the world, not only did it take my job away and make me evaluate what I wanted to do but it also showed me how thin of a string our world is held together by. As I filled out my weekly “I lost my job because a virus shut the world down” form for the state government I decided that I needed a job that was safe from such an unexpected event.
I spent a few days pondering what I should focus on. The choices slowly emerged from the mass of information coming at me. The safe jobs, well the jobs that were deemed essential, Health Care (obviously), Grocery Stores, Farming (maybe), Truck Driving, Law Enforcement. (This was my thought process, I don’t know what “jobs” fell into this category, this was my list.)
I didn’t want to work in healthcare. I didn’t go to school for that, I have a degree in History and a minor in English Literature and Eastern Philosophy. I also didn’t really want to be around sick people, for obvious reasons. Shout out the all of those that are in this field or going into this field, you are truly awesome.
Grocery was an option, with all the food going out the door and the endless need for toilet paper I thought I could help out there stocking shelfs and doing the stuff the people do at grocery stores. I applied at Albertsons and Costco. I guess my background running customer service teams isn’t what they are looking for, or they had a lot of interest, I never heard anything back from either places.
Farming, I love the idea of farming. My dream is a nice organic farm in the middle of no where, someday I will get it, but I currently live in a state where I don’t think farming is the right thing for me.
Truck driving, for those of you that know me, I grew up driving a truck. I put myself through college delivering beer and wine so I have had my CDL most of my driving life. It’s an ok job, I do like to drive. I thought about it for a while and… I will come back to this.
Law Enforcement. When I look back on my life I really wish I would have joined the military. I just like the life and Black Rifle Coffee Company reminds me all the time of what joining the military might have been like. I sadly, never joined, I thought about it a few times but when I was finally serious about it, I was too old. I could have got a waiver but it just seemed like I wouldn’t be successful. I digress.
I thought about being a cop. My ex father in law was a police officer. He had a good career. I gave him a call and talked to him. He thought I would be a good cop. He said he would be my reference. I had been watching The Rookie, Nathan Fillion did it, so I figured I could hack it, I applied. The standard mindset is apply everywhere that is hiring and go with the first one that gives you the job. (I got this advice from a friend of a friend that is a big wig at a local police department.) So I applied, to Phoenix PD, Mesa PD, Maricopa County Sheriff and Scottsdale PD. I live in Scottsdale so I wanted to make sure I would stay local. I looked at Seattle and Boise PD’s as well, but figured I would get my job in AZ and then relocate to Seattle. Why Seattle? They pay the most, other than LA, I don’t want to be a cop in LA.
So I applied online to all four and waited. I was nervous about the physical stuff. I hadn’t been working out, the quarantine caught me off guard and I didn’t set up a home gym, I had borrowed some dumb bells from my neighbor but that isn’t the same as the gym. I also had started training jujitsu but that stopped on March 15th so I took up jogging and walking at night to try and stay in shape, that didn’t stick though.
Phoenix was the first to reply, it told me congrats and that I needed to take a test. I was a bit nervous about a written test. I was never good at test taking and it had been a few years since I had taken one. I was also worried that I was old. Those of your over 45 will know what I am talking about, age discrimination, it’s a thing. We don’t like to talk about it, but I worked in the Bay Area for 5 years. I was old for the Bay Area when I was 43, and every year it was that much harder to get or hold a job due to my age. You can say that it isn’t true but I lived it so… Any way I know that city jobs can’t hold my age against me but in the back of my mind I knew they probably would but I dye my hair and with my healthy lifestyle I don’t come off as old so I figured I would be ok.
I went to the far south side of Phoenix, to the Police Academy training facility for my test. I pulled in and found a place to park. I went to the main entrance. There was a cop there, he was wearing a mask and had a gun thermometer in his hand, he scanned my head, I wasn’t sick. I found out my normal temp is 97.5, so I guess I run cool. I took the test, we social distanced, of course. After the test I talked to a few of the cops. Asked a few questions and was told that I would get emailed in a few weeks with my results and possible next steps.
My next test was with Mesa PD. Mesa started with the physical stuff and then moved to the written test. It would be all on the same day. I selected my day and time. 8am Saturday, I should have done the 6am, AZ remember, but I went for 8. I showed up a bit early. Shorts, shoes. I didn’t really practice for it, I had read what I would do, Obstacle course, body drag, climb a six foot fence and a 600 yard run, maybe 500 yards, some amount of yard run. I am not a runner. I am 6'3 228, I played college football, defensive line, I thought I would be ok, I should have trained a bit but hindsight. I figured I would be ok.
We sat and waited, a LT. talked to us, told us the stats. How many people apply. How many people show up. How many people pass the written. How many people move on. All the steps with all the people that fall away. (I will come back to this.) The time arrived and we all went to the area that they have set aside for the test. It was a huge parking lot, random lines everywhere. We we going to stretch for 20 minutes. So we stretched. It was hot, probably 90 degrees by that time but we went through the motions. I was the oldest person there. Most of the my fellow recruits were in their 20’s, there was a couple older, maybe late 30’s but I was definitely the only plus 45 year old. They broke us into two groups of 10. I was the first person in the first group, last name starts with a B. We went with our dude to the obstacle course. It wasn’t an obstacle course it was a yellow line that snaked around with hard turns and then a saw horse we had to jump over. I went first. I finished, I think I did it in 23 seconds, I can’t remember. We had two shots to do it. They took our fastest score. After that we went to the body drag. A 160 pound sandbag shaped like a body, we had to drag it 20 or 30 feet. Being a near giant it was a bit awkward. I had to carry all the weigh because it just wasn’t working to hunch over and drag it. I did it in like 12 seconds or something like that. The next one was the fence jump. We had to do it four times, two times wood fence, two times chain link fence. The fastest way is to vault over it, I didn’t know that at the time, I ran at it, right foot middle of fence, hands on top of fence then up and over. Worked find. I don’t know how long it took me. There was a very inefficient method. The guy with the stop watch was were I started. I did the thing, got over the fence and the ran past another dude. He would raise his hand when you pass him, signaling to the stop watch dude that I was done, a bit of lag between the two, not a great system. I returned back, one of the dudes in my group started puking. The heat and the obstacle course had weakened him. I was doing better than him I thought.
Next we did the run. I should have trained. I tried to keep up with the group. I failed. I finished in like 2 minutes 21 seconds. Not the first, not the last, I think 4 people finished before me. I handly beat the guy that puked. We stood around for a bit, they told us to come back in three hours for the written test.
The written test was easy. I should have brought my reading glasses, there was some math, some word problems. It was a test. It was a bit easier than Phoenix. They told us we would hear back in a few weeks.
So I waited. I heard back from Phoenix, I had gotten an 86. I was invited to the next step. Fill out this application….by hand. Ugh, I got an F in penmanship back when they called it penmanship and it really hadn’t improved. So I printed out the application and filled it out, the best I could. I could read it. I did all the steps and finally finished after about a week. I was told to submit it to a cop shop downtown Phoenix so I did.
The day after I submitted it Maricopa emailed me that I should an expect an email in a week. Scottsdale nothing yet.
Four days after I submitted for Phoenix, I heard back from Mesa. I passed the physical and gotten a 93 on the test. I was pretty happy. Mesa is where I wanted to work. They paid the most in the area and I was born in Mesa so it seemed like a good fit. (I also randomly thought that maybe I would die in Mesa, circle of life stuff.) They sent me the next step, it was an online application. I made a copy of my Phoenix application so it took me about an hour to type in all the information and I completed it and submitted it. I was so much easier. Online, typed, wow the future.
Phoenix got back to me a week later. They couldn’t read my application and I had to redo it.
Scottsdale wanted me to set up a time to run a mile and a half.
Maricopa, set up a time to take the physical.
I decided, I am not redoing my Phoenix application, do it right and have it online. I was yoloing Mesa. I ignored Maricopa and Scottsdale.
I finally emailed Mesa after two weeks and asked them what the next steps were.
The next day they emailed me to check my spam. I had a day to follow the next steps, it was another application, more detailed than the first. I wasn’t happy, what I waste, if you want that information then ask for it up front. I started filling it out. The first page was everywhere I have lived. I was ok with that, I have lived a lot of places. I get around for work so in the 30 ish years I have been working I have probably lived in like 20ish places.
They wanted the normal information, length of time, address, blah blah, the last section was the landlord. Name, Phone Number, Address. I stopped. I had no f%*#%#*% clue that information. I can’t even remember most of their names. You couldn’t skip any information, it wouldn’t let you submit without it. I stopped filling it out.
Then George Flloyd died.
I listened to everything that was going on. All the bad, all the crappy stuff that was being said. I listened and thought about it all.
I still wanted to be a cop, but I didn’t continue filling out the application. Maybe it’s petty but the police need to fix their crap on so many levels.
I am the perfect candidate for a police office. I spent my career in customer service. I spent my days training people how to have empathy and how to deescalate situations. I am 6'3, 228, a big enough presence to give people pause before they attack me. I train jiujitsu so I can handle most interactions. I have degrees in History, English Lit and Philosophy so I think I can have a handle on how to think.
What could you possibly effin learn from talking to my landlord that you wouldn’t learn from talking to my ex boss, my family, my friends and my references. George Flloyd shows that shitty people become cops and shitty people stay cops, and you probably talked to their landlords as well.
My point of all of this is that the people that made the process won’t be the ones that can fix the process. As I said earlier the police know how many people will drop out at each step of the process. What are you doing to fix that? If you lose 50% from sign up to actual testing date what can you do to fix that? Have you asked that question. Why are you asking for books of information when really you have no clue if that officer will do the job well or not. Maybe the process that got you to George Floyd isn’t the process you should be following, maybe asking for every landlord I have ever had might really not be the best way to figure out if I would be a good cop or not.
I don’t know if I would have been a good cop or not. I know that I will never know because you have such antiquated processes to find out and they don’t work.
I know how to drive a truck and I am taking my test next week to get my CDL. Is that the best use of my talents, probably not, I think I would have been a great cop but sadly the people that made the problem are still in charge and they won’t fix they problem because they don’t know how.