The start of the New Year brings new faces to the Sheriff’s Office. Like other law enforcement agencies around the nation, we are always looking for qualified candidates to join our ranks as Deputy Sheriffs. Once we find those candidates, we send them to an academy where they will get six months of training to become professional law enforcement officers.

But before we do that, we hold a week-long pre-academy training. Keep in mind, these recruits have already been vetted through our very rigorous background process and are officially employees of the Sheriff’s Office. We are paying for them to attend the academy so they can one day become full-fledged Deputies of the Sheriff’s Office. We hold the pre-academy not as a way to “wash” people out who can’t handle the intense process (although that sometimes happens) but we hold the pre-academy as a way to prepare the recruits for what they can expect in the academy.

The pre-academy, like the academy itself, is a quasi-military style of training. There is classroom training as well as training provided by drill instructors. Ah yes, the dreaded drill instructor. Anyone who has been in the military can attest that the drill instructor is someone who is both feared and respected. As you might imagine, that training can be intense at times. But that’s done on purpose. As intense as it may be during the pre-academy, the academy takes it up a notch. But none of that compares to how intense it can be on the streets when you are a brand-new Deputy.

The pre-academy began approximately a dozen years ago. It started with just recruits for the Sheriff’s Office. But other law enforcement agencies in the county began to see the merit in having a training exercise like this and started sending their recruits too. The Sheriff’s Office opens up the pre-academy to all law enforcement agencies in San Luis Obispo County, at no cost to them. Those agencies are of the firm belief that they want their recruits to be as ready as possible to enter the academy and this is the way to do it. In this particular class, we have two recruits from the Sheriff’s Office, two from the Pismo Beach Police Department and two from the Grover Beach Police Department.

The pre-academy consists of a number of classes to teach the recruits about topics like ethics, radio codes, report writing, recruit training manual, uniform inspection, physical training, basic firearms exposure, a basic law class, a drill and ceremony class and a lesson in mentorship. That’s a lot to cram into a weeklong training session, but it’s valuable information these recruits will need to know in the academy. The result of all this training is to promote the overall organizational skills needed to be a success in the academy.

We are extremely proud of both our pre-academy instructors as well as the recruits. We know the recruits are getting top-notch instruction and a preview of what the academy holds for them. And better recruits mean better Deputies. In six months’ time when they finish with the academy, and after they complete additional field training at the Sheriff’s Office, you can rest assured these new Deputies will be well prepared to take to the streets to protect you and your loved ones.