Have You Ever Wondered What It Takes To Become A Miami-Dade Police Officer?

Have You Ever Wondered What It Takes To Become A Miami-Dade Police Officer?

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Right now, there are more than 3,000 Miami-Dade police officers protecting our community.

Every year, there are new hopefuls, but some won’t make the cut.

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CBS4’s Ashley Dyer is introducing us to the men and women who are working their way to the top and what they have to go through to get there.

“One, two three… one!” counts a drill instructor.

“Up! Down! Up! Down!” yells another one.

“A lot of people just don’t understand they see a uniform and a car and think that’s it.  So much more goes into it,” said Charlie Johnson, a basic training commander with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Here, the police academy is militant and strict.

“You have those teaching moments where you won’t forget again,” said trainee Princess Chavers.

Hundreds of men and women working through mental and physical exhaustion, learning what it takes to wear the uniform.

“When you step into that uniform and into that patrol car you have to be prepared for everything,” said Johnson.

“For us it’s a way of life,” said Chavers, a 35-year-old mom of four. “I didn’t grow up in that great of a neighborhood.  We saw police in our neighborhood quite a bit.  I respected them because I knew they were there to clean up the neighborhood.”

Starting with the basics, trainees learn how to fire different guns and pull someone over.

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“We have five active ranges, and we shoot, we fire, we train all the time,” said Carlos Gonzalez, director of the Miami-Dade Public Safety Training Institute.

They learn how to clear a building and the laws they must follow.

“You’ve gotta be on top of everything.  You can’t take anything for granted,” said Angel Morciego, who’s in the Miami-Dade Police Academy currently.

Every officer in the state of Florida goes through the same six-month training program, and for some departments that’s all it takes.  But to be an officer here, it’s a bit more intense.

“We’re different than everybody else.  We’ve realized that’s not enough for officers to perform at our expectations, so we added an additional four, five months,” said Gonzalez.

Today’s world of policing requires officers to wear many hats.

“I wanted to be part of something bigger,” said Morciego.  “I’m from the era of the cocaine cowboys, the Mariel boatlift, so I saw everything that Miami went through.”

He’s following in his son and daughters’ footsteps, both of them Miami-Dade police officers.

“Now with all the hate towards police officers I’m more envigored to do this and I hope I can answer the call,” he said.

Not everyone can go the distance. About 30% of men and women drop out before the final test to earn the badge.  And if you don’t pass the academy, there’s no second chance.  But for Princess Chavers and many others aspiring to join the force, the reasons run deep.

“You grow up running from gun shots and then you have those people coming to stop that for you.  It makes you think hey, maybe I can do that for another kid because it was done for me,” she said.

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Motivation to make dreams a reality.

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