CELEBRATION OF 2014!
So with all the major holidays settled down behind us, we are in the period of a buffer zone before the New Year’s holiday. What do we call the last six days of the year? Some would probably think that these last six days of the year should mean nothing except your preparations for the New Year’s Eve Celebration. Others might even speak out and think that these last six days of the year mean nothing, except getting your ass back to work and plan out your New Year’s Resolutions. Knowing myself and how I think these last six days I think deserve some kind of recognition, not necessarily squeezing in another holiday type celebration. Should we call these last days “End of Year Days”, “Black Week” (in coordination with last minute and end of year sales), “Holiday Season” (as most of us know it now), or some other fancy name to help us continue the celebration from Christmas to New Year’s Day? This would be up to the personal decision of the person or families of how they want to enjoy these last six days of the year as they have for many, many years.
However, my reason for this post is more so to run through the things that have happened to me and my family this year. This is the time of the year where we start seeing a lot more look backs into the most famous stories of the year, highlights in sports, heartbreaking stories and much more. With me I may have mixtures of everything, which this could definitely be long post with everything that I can think of and have record of. Things listed below are separated by month with brief summaries of how that month happened and what occurred. Enjoy!
As always I enter the New Year with a renewed mental state and attitude in hoping this coming year will be different than the previous year. Like many other New Year’s Day celebrations I entered this year by working and being alone, separated from my wife. Although being in a different location than my wife for New Year’s is not completely different, it was, however, different in the sense that she was living in another part of the country. Three weeks prior to entering 2014 I had moved my wife to her hometown in Albany, New York where she began her new job. This also started the transition period of us preparing ourselves for another move and me bringing our personal belongings up to New York every week when I was off.
Not too long after we started this transition period I began informing my fellow co-workers, more so than before, that my time as a police officer in the lovely state of Maryland is coming to an end. Before this month, however, I had applied to numerous police agencies in both New York and Vermont. Although I had taken the New York State Civil Service test back in November 2013, I had no clue whether I passed or failed the test. The slow and lack luster response from the state of New York would soon play in my favor. During this first month of 2014 I ended up receiving a phone call from an agency that I am currently employed with on a Sunday morning or afternoon. Even though they were not advertising for any new hires, I was given the opportunity to take a written test the following month, and if successful through the process, I would receive a part-time position since no full-time position was available at this time. So it quickly appeared that my new adventures and having the faith in God that I will be taken care of and have new doors open.
Entering the second month of our transition period, and racking up many miles on my personal car, marked one month closer to me ending my career where it started. It was around this time of the year where I began to mark my resignation date to be around the end of March, which played perfectly in our favor as well. Although the lease of the apartment that my wife and I were renting didn’t end until April, I knew that I would need that one month to finish up the massive move up north. While my co-workers are trying to figure out when I will exactly leave and resign my position, I had a written test to prepare for, which ironically no study guide was given to me. So I ended up entering this written test site, which was at the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council – Police Academy, located in Pittsford, Rutland County. I take the two and half hour drive from Albany to Pittsford, which was on my scheduled day off, and arrive at the test site in time.
The strange thing was that it didn’t hit me until almost an hour later after my arrival that I was the only black or African-American, however you look at it, at the test site out of a potential 100 or more so applicants for other agencies. With this observation I never felt distracted, out of place or felt that I was being looked at strangely because I could have been breaking a racial barrier. I was relieved when I found out that I didn’t have to take a physical fitness test since I was coming as a part-time officer. However, the written test itself was not easy and, in my opinion, much harder than the civil service test I took a few months prior in Albany County, which gave a time period of five hours to finish. In taking the written test for the state of Vermont, you were given the allotted time of 1 hour and 30 minutes to fully complete 100 questions. My reaction was shock, but I was able to just finish the last question before the moderator yelled “time!” You needed a 70 percentile to pass the test, which seems harmless enough, but with the math and essay questions listed on the test, that passing grade can be a huge challenge.
Once you finished the test you had to wait outside of the gym, where the test was being held, until everyone finished. After everyone finished the staff gave the instructions for everyone to enter back into the gymnasium. About fifteen minutes later, the moderator started to rattle off the names on the list she had plastered in front of her face. She gave the instructions that if your name was called you must leave the gymnasium and meet her outside in the hallway. This period was kind of nerve-wrecking as I anxiously waited for my name to be called, which was never called. Once she came back into the gym from out in the hallway, we were then told that everyone in the gymnasium passed the written test. Nearly half of us that came to take the written were gone now based on not making the passing grade.
Of course, for most the physical fitness test was the next phase, while others who were going for part-time positions went immediately to the classroom to take your psychology test. That took another hour to two hours to complete and then I was done and headed back home to Albany. It would be several days before I would get a call about my results after that day on February 13th. My wife and I kept our Valentine’s Day tradition of ordering pizza, which started while we were living in Maryland and got snowed in. That tradition has been kept and annually repeated ever since.
My wife and I are now entering our third month of transition, and it is getting harder and harder to keep going up and down the road from New York to Maryland on a weekly basis. However, this would become my last month of employment in Maryland and entering my 11th year as a law enforcement officer with my first civilian agency. By this time of the transition it is now solidified that my last days of employment would be at the end of the month, and time to get things finalized in my personal and career life. This also felt like time was slowing down as it came to an end, but happy that I am about to embark on a new life in a new town and new state. My wife and I had to set up a storage unit and I had to quickly get our living space in my mother in laws house set up for living arrangements. While dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of my career ending in one place and knowing that I would miss certain friends and family members, I also got word from another Vermont agency that was interested in hiring me. It was definitely an emotional day when I left and signed off for the last time, which I describe as a bitter-sweet ending of my career in Maryland. I definitely miss the people I worked with, but the job itself I don’t miss one bit and have no plans on ever returning, except to visit those that I still care about.
Finally we have entered the final month of our transition period, which ended nicely with the clean-up and preparations in contacting movers to load and move our personal belongings to our storage unit in New York. This was also the time I saw our favorite neighbors and said our last good-byes to them, and to keep in contact even after we are long gone. Once the carpets were cleaned and walls painted, I turned in our keys and left Maryland behind for good with nothing holding me back. Of course, we did get a scare when the moving company called me on my cell phone while I was heading to New York to meet them at the storage unit. A snag in the plans occurred when the driver of the moving company got pulled over and discovered that his license was suspended. No one else in the truck had valid licenses or had a license at all and so the delivery of our personal belongings was delayed one day, but all of our stuff was delivered. It was also between this time and May that I was told that I passed the psychology test and was moving on to the next phase in the process.
After I received the call from the Bennington County Sheriff’s Office that I would be moving on to the next phase in the process for an oral interview, and later scheduled for my polygraph examination, which was next month. Of course, I had to wait for the results of my background investigation, which I had hoped I stated to them everything. During my interview I had already signed my conditional offer, which was a first for me in this part of a police process. With everything finally settling with our move, I started doing house projects to make our living experience a nice one. My carpentry experience was definitely put to the test as I completely redesigned the rear basement to our studio apartment, and replacing things and restaining wood around the house. This month was also the physical fitness test, polygraph, psychological and oral interview parts of the process with Harford Police Department, another agency that had expressed interest in me weeks earlier. Unfortunately, the date that they wanted me to come in and do all these things before joining their department was bad timing. My wife and I had already scheduled our dog, Romeo, for his surgery to be neutered. I had to contact them to reschedule the date, which would come up later in August.
Two months after I had officially moved to upstate New York, I had gotten word of my phase in the process with Bennington County Sheriff’s Office. I was told that I would meet a sergeant of the Vermont State Police for my polygraph examination. However, I had to reschedule that examination because I got lost using my GPS and using the address I found online. Of course, I felt like crap that I was late and couldn’t find the Royalton Barracks, where the polygraph examination was supposed to be. Luckily about two weeks later I got rescheduled to do the polygraph examination in the same location as before and found it this time. Like many polygraph examinations that I had taken before, I entered kind of nervous and ready for a long drawn out process of continually being told that I am hiding my intentions. I couldn’t have been more wrong as my experience with the polygraph examination and examiner was pleasant and comfortable. They actually want people to pass the exam and not treat them like criminals and make applicants stress out. With the last portion of the police process finished and completed, I was now in the waiting game of either being hired or denied employment. While waiting for the final word I continued to enjoy my summer off from working and being taken care of by the wife, and living off of the money that I had saved and received from my leave being cashed out.
The time has come for the final word from Bennington County Sheriff’s Office on my future. What a gift when I received a call from the agency and was told that I was going to attend the part-time police academy starting in September for two weeks. Before this period of my new chapter, I had moved up to upstate New York without knowing if I would be hired and when I would start with another police department. In matter of fact, I had moved up here and resigned my previous position early in the process, but with my strong faith in God, I knew it was the right move and right time to do so. He had showed me that my faith was not in vain and that I would be rewarded for my strong dedication to Him and the long suffering that I had endured prior to coming up north.
This was the time that the other agency that had expressed interest in me, Harford Police Department, my previous number one pick, wanted me to come in for my rescheduling of the fitness test and two other parts of the process. With confidence and satisfaction of being hired by the sheriff’s office, I had the unfortunate time to explain to them that I had been hired by another agency in Vermont. I’m still reeling off of the excitement of being hired and having the opportunity to start my career once again in another part of the country. My dream of being a deputy sheriff was finally coming true.
With the NFL starting another season, my new season also began with a career in law enforcement in the awesome state of Vermont. Just a few weeks prior to starting the part-time academy, my wife and I did a dry run to the police academy to have a sense of where it was located. Good thing we did do a dry run because I would’ve missed the turn and possibly be late my first date of the academy, which would’ve not been a good way to start things. During my two weeks there at the academy, I learned a lot of how Vermont is different, but same to Maryland. This would be my first exposure to the culture and to the people of the great maple civilization. While here during my two weeks I also met another deputy who was hired by the same agency as I was.
The experience I brought with me to Vermont definitely played in my favor at times during the two weeks. I forged special friendships with others from other agencies and we all got along very well. The big difference and slight struggle I had with the two weeks was the firearms training. I had to get used to a new kind of holster, new weapon system, new firearms range operations and a new grading system. I think I adjusted pretty well and finally got it done and passed the range qualification. Passed the firearms written test with 100% and passed the final exam with an 89%! Things at this point started to become more of a reality. Then the Monday following I began work right away and have been working nearly every week since.
This would become our least eventful month of the year with just me working and learning more of how to do my job. However, this would be the month that I would start picking up training hours required to keep my job and to gain certification in Vermont.
I would celebrate my 35th birthday and purchase a new used Jeep for my wife as an early Christmas present!
Going into the last month of the year, it ended pretty well with the exception of the last six days that still have to happen. This would be a fun month of going to the Christmas party being hosted by my agency, which I must say was the most fun I had in a very long time. I’m very glad we went and had fun with my co-workers and their significant others. Two weeks later I then went to my wife’s Christmas party being hosted by her job, which wasn’t as exciting and cheerful, but we had a very nice dinner and pleasant time. I also had my very first Christmas here in New York as an official resident of the state, which was a nice beginning of a new tradition my wife and I will continue. Sometime in the later half of this year, I was sent a letter that I had passed the civil service test in NY with an 85%! I was also informed that they might not start hiring or looking at people on the list of applicants until 2016 to 2017. It would certainly be a huge lost to Albany PD and SUNY PD that I am now employed in the next state over. I love my job and place of employment too much to leave and go elsewhere now. I strongly believe that my career will end successfully in Vermont and life will continue to grow and prosper for us for a long time coming!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!