OPA recruits speak about tough training

On a brisk Friday morning, the 11 recruits of the 21st Odessa Police Academy session practiced driving in patrol units in the parking lot of Ratliff Stadium.
Recruits Felipe Rodarte and Joselyn Chapa each described the OPA training as difficult.
Rodarte, an Odessa native and Odessa High graduate, said it has been a lifelong goal to become an officer and decided to do so after he was a safety coordinator in the oil industry.
“Now that I’m in it and learning a lot of things, it’s a lot of training to go through,” the 31-year-old recruit said. “There are things that we learn that we can apply and make Odessa a safer place for everybody.”
Chapa, a 27-year-old mother of two from Del Rio, said the toughest part of going through the police academy is juggling training, studying and home life with 8-year-old and 7-year-old children.
“It’s only a couple of months of sacrifice to get to where I want to be,” Chapa said.
Odessa Police Department spokesperson Cpl. Steve LeSueur said more police officers are killed in collisions than gunfire. He said it’s important for recruits to be skilled drivers.
LeSueur said the 11 recruits have to pass eight different scenarios for TCOLE requirements.
“It’s so important that the recruits know how to drive properly,” LeSueur said. “At the end of the day, the last thing that you want to happen is someone is killed or seriously hurt as a result of our actions.”
The 21st session of OPA was delayed due to the coronavirus.
Rodarte said the recruits can meet in-person at the OPA classroom but they have to wear masks and practice social distancing. Rodarte said it has been challenging learning how to become a police officer during coronavirus.
“We are doing classroom training,” he said. “We are practicing safe habits with masks and social distancing. Overall, we are maintaining good health with one another.”
OPA has finished a majority of its field training, however, the recruits have to complete their firearms training before graduation, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. March 5 at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.