Two officers, in two departments, are now on the job

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Officer Chris Taylor, of the Fort Dodge Police Department, poses next to his patrol vehicle. Taylor recently completed his field training and is now on his own as a fully-trained officer.

Nine months ago, Chris Taylor and Corey Wood began their journey as law enforcement officers by starting their training at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnston.

Today, both men are patrolling the streets and county roads on their own as fully-trained peace officers after recently completing field training in their respective departments.

Wood, a Webster County sheriff’s deputy, completed his training in mid-March, while Taylor, a Fort Dodge police officer, wrapped up his training in April.

Both men said they gained invaluable experience while taking part in their training.

“It’s basically the whole job,” Wood said. “How to work cases, do follow-up, how to investigate when they’re there.”

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Deputy Corey Wood, of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, pulls over a vehicle near the intersection of Nelson Avenue and 150th Street. Wood recently completed his field training.

Taylor said one of the biggest takeaways from his training was learning about the difference between civil and criminal matters.

“That’s been a big thing that I’ve been learning, and learning the civil process,” he said. “If they have an issue, it might not be up to that criminal level where we get involved, but just kind of directing people as far as how to go about a civil dispute.”

He added that observing his field training officer, as well as other officers on scene, was very helpful in him learning how to handle certain situations.

“Even now that I’m on my own, I’m still seeing other officers and how they handle things,” Taylor said. “There’s still some things I haven’t seen yet, some things I haven’t dealt with yet. I’m still learning.”

Wood agreed that actually being out in the field was beneficial to him in learning how to handle situations he may encounter.

“I feel like it’s given me more of the opportunity to be hands-on with things,” Wood said. “In field training, for the first half of it, you sit back and watch how things go. You’re there if anything does happen. Through the next part, you still have that person that’s there helping you through everything.

“But once you’re on your own, you try to figure it out as much as you can without having to call or ask questions,” he added. “It’s been very beneficial.”

Taylor’s field training experience was similar.

Initially, he was just observing his training officer, sitting in the passenger seat of the patrol vehicle and watching how the senior officer took care of calls.

“Probably a few weeks in, then I was starting to handle reports and things like that,” Taylor said. “About a month in, I started to be able to drive. Once I was driving, I was getting more involved with doing traffic stops, handling reports. And slowly my FTO (field training officer) would be more hands off, and then towards the end I was kind of handling everything on my own.”

The day both officers went on the road and officially completed their training came as a bit of a surprise for both of them.

Taylor said he didn’t learn he was on his own until he came in to work one day.

“I knew it was coming close,” he said. “I knew I was getting close to that point where they would let me be on my own. I just didn’t know exactly when. Then Sgt. (Jody) Chansler said, ‘Hey, you’re on your own as of tonight.'”

Wood said his experience was similar.

“I had a little bit of a heads up,” he said. “But for the most part, it was based on how my sergeant felt.”

He added that field training is a lot different than what he learned at the academy.

“The academy gives you that base knowledge of what you’re supposed to do when you’re out there,” he said. “But when you’re in your field training, you really get hands-on and you learn more the ins and outs of what they can’t really teach you at the academy, because every situation they show up to is different. So it’s just more hands-on training and learning how to deal with things in that correct way.”

Taylor said he has more freedom as a fully trained officer.

“I can kind of be my own cop,” he said. “Not that I couldn’t be before with my field training officer, but if it’s kind of a slow shift, I’ll pick a spot and I’ll run traffic. It’s just kind of nice to have that kind of free feeling a bit. I can be as proactive as a I want.”

Wood agreed.

“One of my favorite things to do so far is running traffic,” he said. “I do a lot of papers and stuff like that as well. I’m just getting my hands on in some of the cases and being able to work on them on my own.”