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A glimpse of police training as TPD staffs up

Police recruit Erin Winans has worked as a bridal consultant. She laughs at the idea police work may be less tense.

A glimpse of police training as TPD staffs up

CREATED Feb 13, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - After a long budget squeeze that cut deep into department manpower, Tucson's police department is hiring again.

Monday, TPD allowed a visit to the Police Academy as recruits prepared for a life in law enforcement.

Police recruits learn they may not have the fastest car on the road, but if they stay smooth and in good control they'll catch a runaway driver bound to make panicky mistakes.
     
Another exercise trains in a different on the road skill: the sort of routine traffic stop that has the potential to turn dangerous in a flash.
      
An instructor plays the role of the driver being stopped---who turns out to have a warrant for his arrest.

Federal grants and a little let-up in the budget squeeze are letting TPD rebuild it's ranks for the first time in years.

Four years ago TPD had more than 11 hundred officers. Now they're down to about 950 as officers retired and there was no budget to replace them.
       
The department hopes to hire between 50 and 100 new recruits this year based on the number of vacancies that open in addition to current funding.
        
For recruit Erin Winans, the drive to serve her hometown, and the variety of police work are powerful attractions.

Kgun 9 reporter Craig Smith asked her: "What sort of work were you doing before?"

Erin Winans: "I was a bridal consultant before." 

Smith: "Looking for something less tense?"

Winans laughed as she said,"A little bit less tense.  It was fun before but I've always wanted to do this so I wanted to go try for it."

The cadets say the training tests everything about you.

Erin Winans says, "It'll test you physically and it will test you academically.  There's gonna be tests of judgment, tests of character.  It's everything."
     
Army veteran James Horton likes the camaraderie and culture of service in police work.  For him the physical training is not as demanding as learning all the law an officer must be ready to apply on the streets.

"It's not just, get home from the Academy and open up the bag of potato chips and turn on the TV. It's a long day and it's a 24 hour commitment."