Wes Anderson

Brother Anderson, or should we say, Officer Anderson, has some very interesting stuff happening down in Tulsa, OK.

To accompany this story, here’s a video posted for the Tulsa Police Academy Class of 2011!

” In the Spring of 2008 as I was preparing for life after college and, even more difficult for me to wrap my mind around, without football, I signed up to go to a career fair with Scott Crawford and some classmates.  I had no idea what I wanted to do.  Four years of late nights in the armory doing math taught me that I definitely did not want to do math anymore.  I went to the career fair with an open mind.  My stepfather and I had had many discussions about my future.  He had done ROTC with the Navy and had talked to me about a possible military future.  I was very open to this, the idea of serving my country was something that appealed strongly to me.  My mother, on the other hand, was not so keen on that idea.  My father was also in the Navy, and the military lifestyle had taken the ultimate toll on their marriage, ending in divorce when I was four.  It was at her behest that I looked for other employment first.

At the career fair were booths from several different companies and professions. After a few cursory laps to see what, if anything, peaked my interest, I ended up at a booth for the DEA.  I was looking at the brochure and I remember seeing a picture of DEA Agents performing a raid and thinking, “Wow! That looks like fun….”   I began to talk to the person at the booth and found that the DEA, and most federal agencies for that matter, required a couple years of some law enforcement experience.  I was bummed, but decided to keep walking around.  Still to this day I do not know how it happened, but I ended up at this simple, quiet booth in the corner for the Mt. Prospect, IL. Police Department.

I began talking to one of the officers there and was blown away.  I did not know that much about police work, besides what I had seen on COPS.  What the officer told me about a career in law enforcement really started me thinking.  In the profession we refer to it as “getting the bug” or “the itch.”  I began applying all over the country to police departments that were well rated for their training.  Considering that they were hiring and that I had a place to stay, I applied to:  Seattle PD, where my dad lives; Phoenix PD, where  ’08 classmate Shaun Rico   lives; Mt. Prospect PD; Oakpark PD, in the Chicago area; and, finally, Tulsa PD, where our classmate John Brauchie lived.

The application process for law enforcement is something I was unprepared for.  Mock interviews at the career center were nothing comparable.  The process was relatively the same for all departments.  First there was some form of written test and physical test.  The written test ranged from basic common sense tests to one that was almost all a memory test.  The physical test was usually a battery of tests: pushups, situps, 1.5 mile run, 300 meter run, and sit and reach.  Occasionally, there would be some kind of obstacle course.  If you scored well enough on those, you submitted all your information for a background investigation.  This background investigation was very intense.  They would investigate any and all contact I had made with law enforcement.  They would call teachers, professors, landlords, neighbors, friends, enemies, and yes, even ex-girlfriends!  If they found that you were of upstanding moral character, they would invite you in for the oral board interview.  This is where it got hard…

I, like most of you I’m sure, am pretty confident in the great education I received at Wabash College.  I have a confidence that at times definitely flirts with arrogance, especially when dealing with things such as job interviews.  After oral comps, I thought it would be very difficult for me to walk into an interview and be intimidated.

I thought wrong.

I had four oral board interviews.   They all were very similar.  I would be led into a room with between three and five interviewers.  They would be sitting at one end of a very, very long table.  Without any introductions, I would be asked to sit at the opposite end of the very, very long table.  In front of me would be a stack of notecards, usually 10, with numbers on the back.  Then the one interviewer who was assigned the task of speaking would give me my instructions.  When I was instructed to I would flip the first card over.  On the other side would be a question.  I would follow along while the interviewer would read the question aloud.  When he was finished I would then have three minutes to form and give an answer.  There was scratch paper and pen next to me to help organize my thoughts.  Questions from me to them were not allowed.  The interviewers would not speak to me except to read the questions and instructions.  The questions were not typical interview questions.  They dealt with decision making, when to shoot when not to shoot.  They dealt with ethics, intoxicated coworkers, arrests of mentally impaired, etc.  They were very difficult questions and when the interview was finished you could not feel but that you had failed.

In Tulsa, my fourth one, I apparently did pretty well — I was given a spot in the upcoming academy.

The academy was six months of intense training, combined with boot camp-like discipline and physical training.  Every morning I had to have my boots shined to a “high sheen,” my shirt properly and crisply pressed, my equipment all ready and taken care of, and lastly, that I had my hundred blocks of Tulsa memorized.

On top of all that was the academic aspect.  We learned the law we were going to enforce.  We learned the basic ins and outs of being a police officer.  Everything from operating the “intoxilyzer 8000” for DUI’s to the laptops in our cars.  We learned how to fingerprint crime scenes and how to perform first aid.  We fired over 6,000 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition through our Glock model 22s.  We fired an additional 1,000 rounds thorough our Remington 870 shotguns.  We learned how to drive police cars at great speeds and how to perform basic car stops.  We had defensive tactics where we learned to fight.  We got sprayed with OC spray and had to take down a suspect.  (Where a Jalapeno is 2,000 Scovilles, the OC spray is over 2,000,000.)

At times the academy was a bit like trying to drink from a fire hose — overwhelming.  It was a stressful six months, especially for my wife.  She had to deal with me and the results of me being so stressed out.

My class of 38 graduated July 22nd and entered our Field Training Officer (FTO) phase.

FTO training is a 16 week process.  It is a process where we are paired up with an older officer and they take a progressively lessened role as we take on a progressively increased role.  We ride with one officer for six weeks, a second for four weeks, a third for four weeks and back to our first for two weeks.  The idea behind it is to give us well rounded training.  We learn from three different officers, on three different shifts, in three different parts of town.  I am currently in my last two weeks with my first phase FTO.  Assuming I do not mess up, I will be on my own with my own police car at the end of it.

Being a police officer is an amazing job.  My wife once asked me what my favorite part about it is.  I thought that was a hard question to answer at first, but after a little thought I realized it wasn’t.  What I like about the job is that you never know what is going to happen each day.  I have driven a car at 120 mph down the highway, I have chased down a guy running from us, I have found drugs on people, I have helped people having terrible days, I have shot a dog, I have been the first officer on scene of a double homicide…

I could go on and on about it.

I love my job, but it is not always fun.  I have seen a lot of things that I have no desire to ever see again.  Tulsa is a violent city.  This is a city where police officers rarely keep their guns in their holsters.  It is a dangerous job.  I knew that when I signed up.  I take pride in the oath I took to defend the laws of this country, state, and city.

The last line of the oath is “… with my life if need be.” That is something that my fellow officers and I take seriously.  I have faith in my fellow officers, in our training, and in myself that I know I will make it home safely every night. “


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