Patrolman Patricia Earle of the Tucumcari Police Department returned to active duty recently after a five-month stint at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy in Santa Fe.
Earle underwent mental and physical training in order to be certified as a police officer. She said it was a little difficult coming back to routine police work after all the structured training at the academy. “It was almost like starting over, because I had to relearn the Tucumcari streets after being away so long,” she said. Earle has been on the local police force for just over a year. She received on-the-job training from fellow officers prior to entering the academy. “The officers here trained me really well,” said Earle. “They taught me a lot of things that helped me out once I began the academy training.”
Earle knew from an early age that she wanted to do police work. She made her start in law enforcement by working at the Wackenhut private correctional facility in Santa Rosa.
“I originally thought that police work would be too difficult for me, but I went through the correctional training and found that it was a little easier than I thought,” she said. “I started out as a dispatcher for the police and worked my way up to being a patrolman.” Earle said the hardest area of academy training was the physical training, or “P.T.” “I had to work extra hard on my running,” she said. “In addition to the daily physical training, I also worked out in the academy’s gym every night after dinner.”
The academy instructors often try to add extra stress during training situations. Earle said she enjoyed the challenges.
“I’m the type of person who does not accept imperfection on my part, so I enjoyed the high stress situations, proving to myself that I could handle them.” Earle said one of the fun aspects of academy training was the opportunity to train with paintball guns. “The Santa Fe S.W.A.T. team showed up with paintball guns that resembled automatic weapons,” said Earle. “We got to train as police searching a building. I didn’t get shot once. I also got to play the role of a criminal during the paintball exercises, so I could get a feel for what it was like for a criminal to be involved in a shootout with police. It took place in an old prison.”
Back on the streets of Tucumcari, Earle said she continues to find her work rewarding. “I get to help people and there are high stress situations from time to time where I can put my training into practice,” she said. Patrolman Pedro Bolin has been in tense situations on the job with Earle. He said she knows how to handle tough situations. “She knows how and when to be aggressive, and she also knows how to keep a cool head during a stressful situation,” said Bolin. “We face a lot of stressful situations.” Earle said she wants the people of Tucumcari to know that police officers are human, too. “I like the opportunity to show my humanity when I’m out among the public,” she said. “Every Tucumcari Police Officer wants the public to know that we are here to help.”