PLAIN DEALING, La. (KSLA) — The journey to becoming a law officer is a long one, but what’s it really like for recruits at the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office Training Academy?
Earlier this week, recruits went through the training academy’s “chemical day.”
“It’s orientation to things like CS or tear gas, and then what we call OC, which is commonly known as pepper spray," staff instructor Sgt. Jeremy Haas said.
He and other instructors at the academy have gone through chemical day and say the experience is extremely uncomfortable.
“If you can imagine slapping a really bad sunburn that stings but it’s there 20-30 minutes,” Haas explained.
Recruits first spend 10-20 minutes in a building filled with tear gas.
That’s followed by them being sprayed in the face with pepper spray then going through a variety of obstacles that include dragging a 130-pound bag, handcuffing a person and shooting a target.
The goal of this training is for recruits to get exposed to tear gas and pepper spray and know what to do if they accidentally get exposed to it, Haas said. “If it ends up on them, they know exactly what to expect.
“Another thing is if they’re going to use it on somebody, they need to know how it feels and what they’re just about to do to somebody else in an effort to get them to understand this is kind of a serious thing,” he continued.
This experience is not just a mental thing though.
“Part of it is teaching them a little bit about the mental toughness that it takes for them to be a cop because you never know,” Haas said.
At the end of the obstacle course, they wash the pepper spray out of their eyes.
“We teach them how to decontaminate so they know how to wash off themselves," Haas explained. “If I had to spray you in the course of my duties, once I have you under control and placed in cuffs, you’re now my responsibility.”
Recruits will have to decontaminate the person they spray once they get them in custody, he said.
“I’m not going to leave you uncomfortable. I’m not going to leave you in pain once I have control.”
But while it’s pretty entertaining for instructors at the academy, it’s an important day for recruits that will help prepare them for situations they could encounter in law enforcement.
“We’ve all been there. So we can kinda laugh a little bit about it because we know it’s not going to kill us. And what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?" Haas said. "So they’re learning now what it is to have that stuff and still function.”
Recruits in this year’s class are training to become Bossier sheriff’s deputies and Bossier City, Haughton, and LSU-Shreveport police officers.