July 20, 2004 > Police Log
Post Academy Interview
Three Fremont Police Officers recently joined the department's ranks after completing a rigorous six month training course in Sacramento. TCV listened to Officers Ramin Mahboobi, Matthew Bocage and Matthew Snelson as they discussed their experiences and feelings while completing their in-house training and anticipate patrol activities. TCV will ask for comments and reactions from these officers as they move through their probationary year with the Fremont Police Department.
TCV: The standard question that comes to mind is why you decided to become a policeman.
Ramin: I went to school in Fremont. As a young adult, deciding on a career, I had a lot of role models from the police department - family, friends, School Resource Officer. I always wanted to work with and help people. I did a lot of research into the career and spent a few years working here as a citizen employee to get a first-hand look. The positives far outweighed any danger or negatives.
Matthew B: A standard response of wanting to work with and help people while making a difference certainly applies to me. I have a background in public service - four years with the Air Force in Communications, out of high school. I just graduated from college last fall. What has played a big role was September 11th. At a time of crisis, we had a chance to see public service - fire, police, EMS - at its best. These are the type of people I want to work with. I had an interest prior to that, but September 11th solidified my career goals and aspirations.
Matthew S: I grew up in Fremont and had a good appreciation for the city and how safe it was. I majored in Psychology in college and debated whether to enter the police force or go for a Masters degree and work in family counseling. My last year in college, I started working at the church I grew up with and attend. I worked at the church full time and about a year ago, my wife and I talked about long term career goals. I did a "ride along" and decided to put in my application. Fremont and most other cities were not hiring at that time, but last October, I saw an opening on the Fremont website and applied. Fremont is one of only a few cities that I would consider for employment.
TCV: How do your families feel about your career choice?
Matthew B: I have a very close relationship with my family. They and my fiancˇe were initially apprehensive about my decision. Everyone recognized that I had characteristics to make a good police officer, but there is always an element of danger. They adjusted very quickly and support me 100%.
Ramin: My family and friends have always been on the right side of the law. My family has been extremely supportive. During the process of deciding whether to pursue this career, my family said that my personality really fit and they could see me in the role. They were all supportive and encouraging.
Matthew S: My family, too, has been very supportive.
TCV: Did the training program you just completed in Sacramento meet your expectations?
Matthew B: With my military background, I had an idea of what to expect. It was a wonderful experience and exceeded my expectations in terms of professionalism and some of the things we heard about police academies. The academy was a fantastic training experience - tough, rigid and "hard core" - but I think we all left with a very good impression.
Ramin: Thankfully, Fremont took a lot of time to prepare us. Prior to going into the academy, we spent a couple of weeks in a "pre-academy." We went in prepared and knowing what to expect. I felt prepared for academy life. Right away, we were introduced to a high stress environment, received a lot of information and were quickly tested on it, knowing that our career was on the line with each test. We spent long nights studying, memorizing and preparing for the next day including a lot of detail work preparing our uniforms for inspections.
Matthew S: From the moment we walked into "pre-academy," every person we saw, bar none, would stop us and say, "If you ever need anything at the academy, call us because we have somebody who specializes in whatever you may be struggling with, whether it is physical training, arrest control baton techniques, testing materials or anything else. Every person we talked to would tell us this so I felt very supported when we were in training. We had the backing of a good department.
Matthew B: I went in expecting a paramilitary and stressful environment. This demonstrates to yourself that you can function under stress because that is what you are going to deal with on the streets. At the same time, I was shocked and impressed by the accountability that police officers have to be under on a daily basis. Everything that you do has to be legal - you are constantly thinking about multiple things and trying to multitask. That was eye opening for me! I came out with a huge appreciation for what police are able to do. We walked out of the academy with some great training but knowing how much more I need to learn. When watching police shows, you may see the action, but not understand what is going through the officer's mind - can I search this person? Can I get in that car and search for drugs? Is this a detention, a consensual encounter or an arrest?
TCV: Not everyone completes the Police Academy. All of you were successful. What helped you complete the course successfully?
Matthew B: You need a commitment to succeed. The great thing about the Fremont Police Department is they are very selective about who can become part of the organization. The camaraderie between the three of us played a huge role. There was never a doubt that we would make it. Quitting was never an option.
Ramin: The possibility of injury is on everyone's mind. You can be injured on week 23 and unable to pass a test, therefore out of the academy and have to start all over.
Matthew S: The camaraderie is very important. Throughout the six month process, every one of us had good days and bad days. Being able to help and challenge each other made a huge difference. Out of a class of 48 candidates, the 31 who graduated had a "never quit" attitude. That is what you want in an officer because if you are in a situation where your life is at stake, you can't quit physically or mentally.
To Be Continued........