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Training of future officers continues despite deputies' deaths

Florida Public Safety Institute busy preparing future recruits

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As two Gilchrist County sheriff’s deputies shot were laid to rest Tuesday after being shot and killed at a Trenton restaurant last week, training for future law enforcement officers continued as scheduled at the largest law enforcement academy in the Southeast.

Flags were at half-staff in honor of the slain deputies at the Florida Public Safety Institute, located 25 miles west of the state Capitol. 

But at the academy, it was training as usual.

As a defensive tactics class taught officers to gain compliance from suspects, the fact that two deputies were laid to rest as they trained was not lost on the class. 

“It makes you reflect on the seriousness of the job,” Tallahassee police recruit Jonathan McCall said. “But that’s where we come in here and get the training we did.”

Many recruits, such as McCall, have military backgrounds. They know the pay is low and the danger is high, but they still want to serve. 

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“I just finished a 25-year career in the military and so I wanted to serve in a different capacity at my community level,” said Tallahassee police recruit Alexander Perea.

Recruits at the academy will spend anywhere from 800 to 1,000 hours learning their trade, and the Florida Highway Patrol trains recruits for seven months. 

Together, 60 state and federal agencies train at the 1,500-acre academy. 

“We replicate the real world as much as possible,” said E.E. Eunice, director of the Florida Public Safety Institute.

By the time the cadets leave, they will have the skills needed to be a police officer.

Whether they have the temperament to withstand the dangers is something they will find out on their own once they’re on the street.