Accept no defeat
This week I had the unique opportunity to do something a little extraordinary. I was given the opportunity to undergo the tasks that an officer must go through in order to be eligible to volunteer in the Special Response Team (SRT).
For all of you who don't know, the SRT team is a group of law enforcement volunteers who are trained in SWAT tactics. This team is called out for serious situations such barricaded shooters and hostage situations.
Candidates must have been a police officer for at least two years before being allowed to try out.
The try out process is comprised of several different areas, and I got to join this year's candidates for the test to see just how hard it is to actually get on the team.
The first area was the firearm qualification. While each officer must qualify with several different weapons, the try out process requires you try out with the duty weapon. SRT members must score a 90 on firearm qualifications.
When I got up there to do this part, I was terrified. I had only held a gun one other time in my life. Under careful instruction, I shot a qualification round without the time limitations. I mean it would be horrible to put a time limit on a woman who has no real firearm experience, don't you think?
While it was challenging even without the time limitations, I scored a 90. I was so happy I wanted to do my happy dance but didn't because there were people there.
Then we moved on to the sit-ups and push-ups. Officers are required to complete 30 sit-ups in one minute and 30 push-ups in one minute. I fell a little short. I completed whopping 10 push-ups in the allotted time and did 22 sit-ups.
Next was the one and a half mile run. Now, the requirements say you have to complete it within 15 minutes. The other guys did great at this. I was another story. I only completed three laps in 13 minutes and decided that it wasn't worth killing myself over. Please note that I did not run the whole way. I ran about a half a lap, and decided to walk. Yeah. I think it's safe to say if I were trying out, they would have given me the boot right then.
But, since I was working on this column, they let me stay. I did decide after this phase that I was at least half as good as they are considering that I am not an officer and could be in better physical shape.
After lunch, we moved on to the most challenging part of the experience-the 10-mile march. I'll be honest. I wasn't really thrilled about having to march 10 miles up and down hills. But, I didn't want to say I couldn't do it because I knew that if I wanted it bad enough, I could complete it. After all, I couldn't let these guys think I am any less capable than they are, right?
At this point of the experience, I adopted a motto: Accept no defeat. Every time the test got tough, I'd say this motto to myself over and over again.
There were several times when I didn't know if I could make it even before we hit the half way mark. But, I felt if I gave in that it would show weakness. So, I kept with my motto.
We rested for a few minutes at the half waypoint. It was then I learned the officers had made a wager as to how long I'd tough it out. It was then I decided I'd got the distance no matter what.
The problem with that thought is that the last five miles were up hill. This test is designed to make the team member really dig down and make it 'til the end. It shows how determined they are to complete tasks.
As I began the last half, I was worried I couldn't do it. After about two more miles, the big hills started. I walked about a mile up hill. I walked the biggest hill in the whole route, but I had to stop at least a dozen times.
The pack I was wearing got to be extremely heavy. But, I clung onto my motto, and walked one step at a time. That was probably the most challenging thing I had ever done in my life. When I got to the top of the hill, my pack was taken away, not by my choice. After about another half mile, I caved. I really couldn't take it anymore. My foot, which I injured 18 months ago, was killing me. It was starting to get dark, and I knew it would take me while to finish. So, I decided to get in the car.
I felt defeated, but a few hours later I figured out that I wasn't defeated. I just needed a little help. After all, I had not trained for this day for a few months nor was I an officer who really wanted to make the team. I was simply a journalist looking for a story or a column, and I knew I had enough to do it.
The guys who were trying to make the team completed the task. They will now go to SWAT training at some point to learn SWAT tactics.
I guess the moral of this story is that things may look easy but they are not. It may seem easy to put on a uniform and carry a gun everyday, but it's not. It may seem easy to dress up in SWAT gear and break down a door, but it's not.
I know a lot of us criticize the way law enforcement does a lot of things. We can say a lot of things. But, in actuality, things are different. After all, I said I was going to walk that 10 miles even if it killed me.