Law Enforcement Today asked the following question: “If you could give advice to rookie officers in the FTO phase of training, what would it be?”

We have paraphrased, edited, and categorized your responses.

Officer Safety

  • Keep your eyes and ears open. There is no such thing as stupid question. Keep your head on a swivel. Listen to the veterans. You may think you know everything, but they have seen and done more than you. – James Pollock
  • No matter what, we are going home to our family after our shift tonight. – Tito Nardin
  • When dealing with a person, watch their hands. . . . Your mouth has the ability to de-escalate with verbal judo. . . .  Always remain FIRM but FAIR. – Kurt Jordan
  • As you gain experience and you start getting these gut feelings, you are probably right. – Mike Korn
  • Don’t open a door that you are not prepared to walk through. Don’t take a step forward and then be forced to take a step back. Never hesitate. – Sean Maher
  • Don’t ever underestimate a true gangster. – Jenell Vukojevich
  • Be a warrior with a spirit of compassion. – Jack Rinchich
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Always let someone know where you are. Listen to your superiors and partners. – Reva Roze
  • Always wear Kevlar and your seatbelt. And for every action there is a reaction. – Lylie Sissie Floyd
  • Employ “If-Then” thinking. “If this happens, then do this.” It helps you to always have a plan. – Scott Morales



  • Know how to talk to people. The way you start an interaction will determine the outcome. Be respectful regardless of who you’re dealing with. – Richard Watts
  • Treat everyone like you would want your mother, wife, and kids treated. – Steve Shults
  • Listen take notes and observe. Be professional. – Joe Hart
  • SLOW DOWN! Take time to smell the roses . . . exercise situational awareness, every hour – every day. Your first three years on the street will eventually show you that you cannot conquer all the evil in your corner of the world. – Dave Malinowski


Practical Advice

  • Go sit in dispatch for a shift. – Lara Sue
  • Remember what you learned in the academy. Temper that with the solid experience of veteran officers and be vigilant for any changes that might effect the results of what you’ve learned. – Roger Bull
  • Listen and watch. – Tim Burrows
  • Start your deferred comp on day one. – Eric Reynolds
  • Slow down, take a deep breath and get your rhythm! – Houston Gass
  • For your first few years of service be a sponge. Soak up all you can. Be short on opinions and criticism and long on learning the job, the players, their agendas, the internal politics, and individual personalities. – Alfred J. DelCiampo
  • When citizens are angry, upset, yelling and calling you names, remember it is not personal. The name-calling is directed at what you represent, not you personally, because they don’t know you at all. Remain calm, be objective, and focus on your surroundings. Second, don’t take your work home with you. It is a job, a profession, not who you are. Be who you were before you joined the force. Family and friends are number one in your life. – Richard Santel
  • Just because your FTO says it, doesn’t necessarily make it true. They are human just like anyone else. There are a lot of awesome FTOs and some REALLY terrible ones. – Zachary Jackson
  • Don’t let the profession harden your heart. – Joe Quinn



  • No matter how bad you screw up, NEVER lie about it. You might get in trouble, but if you lie, you’re done. – Thud Homer
  • Embrace and own your own mistakes. – Mark Joseph
  • No matter what you hear about throwing out what you learned in the academy since the streets are a lot different, it’s not true. Think of the academy as your parent. They gave you guidelines to work from. Work and grow from there. – Marc Tragesser
  • Treat people the way you want to be treated, until they give you a reason to treat them otherwise. – Mark Maertz


Lighthearted Advice

  • By the way, you’re buying. – Michael A. Crago
  • God gave you two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason. – Matthew Cline
  • Go to the firehouse and apply. – Tommy Faherty
  • The toes you tread on today could be connected to the foot up your arse (tomorrow) – Russell Garrard



Finally, we’d like you to remember the American eagle on the one-dollar-bill. If you have one take it out. You will see the olive branch of peace in the right talon (or left as it faces you), and arrows of war in the left. As a police officer one of your primary roles is to stabilize a scene and bring peace, but some people require you to use force to do so. Therefore, extend the olive branch when appropriate, yet be prepared to use the arrows of war when necessary.

(Graphic courtesy SGT141)