On the Road to Becoming a Police Officer

Trey Burrus has always wanted to be a cop, or, more respectfully, a police officer.  That is, since he was 4 years old.   He describes this desire as “a lifelong dream.”  He is currently in his 5th week at the Police Academy in Richmond, KY, after being hired by the Lawrenceburg Police Department.  Trey (officially, Kenneth Burris III) is a Lawrenceburg resident whose interests include hunting, fishing and playing in the mud.  He is also a third degree black belt in Karate and instructs at the Scott Brown Karate Academy.

When talking with Trey, we learn just how difficult it is to become a police officer.  He put an application in three times before there was an opening and subsequently hired.  But he did not get hired because there was an opening, nor just because he has friends in the department.  The Lawrenceburg Police Department requires a physical exam, a written exam, a psychological exam and a polygraph test, and that is just to be hired.

And, then the fun starts, starting with a 23 week course at the police academy. The course requires approximately 35 hours a week of training, plus homework.  Just to put this in perspective, a college semester is approximately 14 weeks long, with a full time student spending 15 hours in class (plus homework).

The training is tough.  The 23 weeks are almost twice as much as police officers in some other states are required to receive.  There are at least 7 academic exams covering a variety of state and federal laws.  This is not just for a general understanding, but it gets into the intricacies of the laws.  For example, there are 4 different degrees of burglary and the students must know each of them.

Considerable time is also spent on the 4th amendment which is the right to be secure in our homes and protect against unlawful search and seizure.  An officer’s job is to protect our rights.

There is also considerable training and testing with physical training exams, driving exams and shooting.  Bottom line is, Trey, like all other officers is being highly trained.  The reason for all the training is to be able to help you and I, the citizens they are sworn to protect.  The officers are trained in self defense so they can keep all people safe if and when they are called to an incident, even if they are provoked.

Trey has been very impressed with the professionalism that is demanded of the police officers.  He explained that they are instructed to be nice to everyone even in a tough situation.  They are expected to say “yes, sir” and “no, sir” (or ma’am) when addressing people.  They are also to avoid the use of certain inflammatory swear words.

Ethics is also highly important to these officers.   Another aspect of the professionalism is their honor code.  Violations of the honor code can and do get you dismissed from the academy.  Officers are not to lie, cheat or steal and not to tolerate those that do.  An action that many might consider a white lie or no big deal is grounds for immediate dismissal.

As Trey said, they work very hard just to be able to sit in a patrol car.  He is scheduled to graduate on August 5th.  But his training will not be over.  He will then spend 8 more weeks riding with a Lawrenceburg Police training officer.  Then, after a total of 31 weeks training, he will be patrolling the streets of Lawrenceburg.

When you talk with Trey, you can see the commitment and dedication that he has for being a policeman.  This is no doubt true of all the men and women that become officers.  They have been highly trained, and we should be thankful that Trey and his fellow officers are watching out for us.

-Written by Don West

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