Utica police say they could have one of the most competitive academy classes they've ever had with record numbers signing up for their entrance exam. YNN's Andrew Sorensen tagged along for a day at the academy and shows us some skills the recruits will need to learn to make it on the job.
ORISKANY, N.Y. -- To be a police officer, you have to learn to drive like one. That takes skill and a lot of practice.
"It's very difficult, especially as you can, you know, there's people knocking over cones all the time. So it's challenging," said police academy recruit Brett Huckabone.
For Brett Huckabone and the other 19 recruits in his class, this is part of a six month course on their way to earning a badge.
"We are only three weeks in so far. This is one of the fun parts, I think," Huckabone said.
Instructors like Scott Berger teach them the skills they'll need on an old airport runway. Their first course of the day is called EVOC.
"Emergency Vehicle Operations Course," Berger explained. "It's basically anything from learning how to back up to learning how to drive fast in an emergency situation."
They get some last minute instructions and they're off. It's a lane change, a U-turn and then into some faster maneuvers.
"I'd have to say somewhere between 60 to 70 [miles per hour]" Huckabone said.
They learn other skills at slower speeds, but the point of this course is to know just exactly what it's like to be completely out of control.
"Just to kind of make them understand what their vehicle can do, what the laws of physics are, that doesn't allow them to do and like I said, just to prepare them for real world scenarios," Berger said.
But believe it or not, making split second decisions that could send you spinning out isn't the hardest part of the academy.
"Penal law is the hardest part of the academy so far," said Huckabone.
So far. But there are still another five months to go.
Candidates for the Utica Police civil service exam need to sign up by Friday. Applications are available in the civil service office of city hall until 4:30 p.m.