OTTUMWA — Three new Ottumwa police officers fresh out of training will now dive into a hands-on program for the next few months alongside established officers.
The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy’s 249th Basic finished its 14-week training on Friday, graduating a class of 37 that included three men who began their first day at the Ottumwa Police Department on Monday: Nathan Wolff, Rob Schutte and Devin Yeager.
“It went quick, and we learned a lot,” Wolff, 23, originally of Peotone, Ill., said.
Now that they are back in Ottumwa, the three officers will start the 15-week Police Officer Training (PTO) program, each with an Ottumwa officer. By August, their probationary period will be over, and they will take their first steps on Ottumwa’s streets as full-fledged police officers.
There were definite highs and lows of their training at the academy, Schutte, 23, originally of Kahoka, Mo., said.
“The mace was a low point,” he said.
During pepper spray training, the trainees were sprayed in the eyes, had to stand for 10 seconds holding their eyes open, punch a bag for 30 seconds or more, go downrange to fire shots and radio for help. Only after all of this could they start decontamination.
“The actual drill was around two minutes,” Schutte said. “But it was an hour of agony.”
Yeager, 22, of Ottumwa, said the practical training was hugely beneficial, including lessons at the firing range, practicing vehicle stops and operating while intoxicated stops, first aid and hazmat.
Every day the trainees would wake up at 6:30 a.m., go through inspections and be in their first class by 8 a.m., where they would stay until 5 p.m. with the occasional night class.
“We learned a little bit about everything,” Wolff said.
The three also exhibited the drive to be the best in their class at the academy. Schutte had been tied for top shot as the end of the academy approached, only losing to another trainee in a shoot-off at the very end.