When you talk to James, he is charismatic and genuine. He welcomes you with a smile and a hand-shake, and at the same time you can sense something more; there is a confidence or “presence” about him. In fact, it is something you may notice when you meet other people in law enforcement.
“There is actually something called ‘command presence’ that you work on when you are in the academy,” James said.
James explains that “command presence” refers to the ability of commanding the attention and respect of people when he is called to a crime scene, altercation, accident or any such happening that could spiral out of control and thus demands the need for law enforcement to intervene.
James was kind enough to let us into his world and share with us how health and fitness works into the life of someone who aspires to begin a career in law enforcement. Our conversation about this skill of “command presence” seemed like the perfect place to begin James’ REAL STORY…His experience in the police academy.
REAL STORIES asked James about his personal experience of making the decision to begin a career in law enforcement and attending the police academy.
Why did you decide to make law enforcement your career?
It’s always been something I’ve been interested in, but I didn’t pursue it for a variety of reasons. After graduating college, I got a job in the Commercial Real Estate Industry. When the economy crashed in 2008, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I immediately began pursuing a law enforcement career. I always wanted a job that would motivate me to stay in shape. I have a tendency to get lazy, so I need the extra motivation.
You mentioned that you went to college; did you get your degree in criminal justice?
I went to college to get “a” degree…So I actually ended up with a business degree. From what I’m told, when it comes to hiring for a career in most law enforcement jobs, it really isn’t important what your degree is in, just that you have one.
Can you tell us what your experience was like while attending the police academy?
I had a great time! Along with classroom, firearms and defensive tactics training, we had PT or Physical Training. It mostly consisted of running, circuit training and pushups. I liked the fact that I was being paid to work out.
Was there anything about attending the police academy that surprised you, or was unexpected?
I wouldn’t say anything was unexpected or surprising; however it did take some time for me to learn the para military type drills we did the first few days. I stood out like a sore thumb—as did a few other people with no prior military experience—and I ended up getting yelled at and doing a lot more pushups than I had anticipated going in (laughs).
How physically demanding is police academy; did you train and condition in preparation for attending?
The academy was only as physically demanding as the preparation, or lack thereof, of the individual recruits. I had prepared in advance by running and staying in the gym. However, some others had not done as much preparation. It was easy to see who had not prepared. Let’s just say they got a little extra attention from the training officers.
That being said, in hindsight, what advice would you give to new and aspiring recruits?
The most important thing is to have good cardiovascular stamina…Run, run, run! That being said, you still can’t ignore upper body conditioning as there are some obstacles. One of the requirements to get hired was being able to climb over an 8 foot wall, and if you can’t get over it, you don’t pass. I guess I’d just say be well-rounded with your workouts but emphasis on cardio.
James’ REAL STORY is just getting started! So be sure to come back and learn more about his exciting job as a San Diego law enforcement officer and what he does in the gym to stay on top his game.
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