How young we were. How filled with enthusiasm and energy! We were on the cusp of a new frontier; a threshold never crossed until then. An actual full time driver training facility for our department, with four full time driver training instructors! Our first day? August 28th of 1998. There was huge work to be done. Clear the land: 40 acres. Build a classroom from a dilapidated mobile home. Beg surplus items from the military. Literally mill, with a huge engine and a diamond-stoned terrazo grinder, a glass-like surface for a water-flooded skid pan into concrete. And then design all the driver training courses necessary to meet POST standards and keep cops safe.
We had to literally clear the land with an ancient tractor and weed mowing attachment begged from a nearby golf course. That was my first job; mowing the 4-to-5 foot dry weeds, bouncing over rolling terrain abandoned by the US Air Force in 1996. I couldn’t see what I was driving into. Consequently, I rolled over chunks of concrete, electrical stanchions, huge rocks. I killed many blades. Eventually I killed the tractor.
This is where we were, on a former SAC Alert pad. All the brown area you see above, that’s what I had to mow. In 105-degree heat, with choking weed dust. We were cops, mowing weeds, stealing desks and chairs, begging local venues for equipment we didn’t have. We hammered nails, put up wallboard, built ceilings, painted wood, “appropriated” rows of classroom seats we “found.”
Our first classroom presentations were on a 1950s overhead projector with clear plastic overlays. We left plum assignments to be there; I left Homicide, for example. That’s how much we believed in training; that’s how much we believed in what we were doing. There was never something so exciting as getting into an entirely new program and having the freedom, the investment, the duty, the responsibility, of being able to design something entirely from scratch and then embracing it, making it your own.
The area, once worked, was beautiful. We kept the place as immaculate as possible.
I was lucky enough to be one of the founding instructors that year, in 1998. I designed and wrote all our courses, had them certified. I worked at EVOC from 1998 to 2001, when I was promoted and then worked in Communications. I next became the department’s Rangemaster. A few years later, I was able to tranfer back to my first love: EVOC. I’ve been there ever since.
Overall, I had the time of my life here. And I’m making this post today as much or more for me than for you; I can come back here and relive these memories.