So here I am, working at the California State University, Stanislaus Police Department in the city of Turlock. It was a great place for people starting a career, especially when you want to further your education, as I did.
But even though I made a ton of friends, received the "Officer of the Year" award and assisted the Turlock Police Department when they got busy, the commute from my home in Stockton was just getting way too old, and I was not gaining a lot of experience by handling the small number of calls that occurred on campus.
During my time as a college cop, I met Lodi police officer Shad Canestrino. He spoke highly of the department, his fellow officers and the community. He felt the citizens really supported the police. I tossed the idea of making a move to the Lodi Police Department around for the next few years.
When you are in a stable job with seniority at a place where you get along with everyone you work with at the same time you have a young family, you tend to want to stay in that comfort zone. But I needed more. I wanted to expand my experiences as a police officer. I wanted to have the opportunity to use my education and possibly someday work as a detective. I also wanted to work closer to home so I could really give my family more of my time. I decided it was time to make my move. I really didn't feel the pressure until the day my background officer said, "Congratulations, Jim. How would you like to work for the Lodi Police Department?" I was excited, but at the same time I was really second-guessing my decision. What if I failed? I would be leaving my job at CSUS behind and returning was not an option. Basically, if I failed, I might find myself working two jobs just to survive. I made my biggest decision of my life and accepted the job offer.
After my swearing-in ceremony, it was on to the five-month field training program. During this program, you are evaluated from the moment you arrive at the beginning of your shift until you leave that night. Not only must you prove you can handle the job, but you have to have a great attitude. The calls for service at a college campus are often at a slower pace, and the range of calls are limited. Believe it or not, Lodi can be a very busy city, and at times, if you cannot multi-task, keep alert and be ready to respond to anything that comes up, you won't make it through the training program.
As I got through my five months, I battled my weaknesses. I continued to second-guess myself and my abilities. I was not familiar with the streets or alleys in Lodi, nor did I know the fastest routes to take when in a hurry to get somewhere. Needless to say, the stress was at an all-time high during those months.
The anxiety of failing was at times unbearable, but I forged on knowing it was all mental, and if I could just focus, I would make it. And after the five months of training, I did just that. I was finally a member of the LPD family.
Next time, I will share my experiences as a new Lodi police officer fresh out of the training program. I'll give you some insight into my fellow employees and, most importantly, tell you something about the "family" atmosphere in our department.
Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to Jeanie Biskup at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240, phone (209) 333-6864.