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I often think back to that warm July night when I was a 22-year-old recruit officer recently hired with a local metropolitan city police department. Having just finished my initial training, I was about to enter the Field Training Officer (FTO) program, which is a 14-week process to prove myself ready to be on my own. This was the final step to becoming a solo patrol officer. Little did I know how much this night would change my life and influence my career as a police officer.

I am nervous and anxious as I arrive at the precinct to work my first graveyard shift. Dressed in my Class A blue dress uniform, I feel a strong sense of pride to be able to wear the police badge as a full-time representative of the law. As I enter the briefing room, there is a group of seasoned officers gathered around the table joking and talking about the latest department gossip. I feel intimidated as one officer shouts from across the room, “So you’re the new rookie. Try not to kill your FTO on your first night.”

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