Inside the Nassau County Police Academy

A close-up look at the intense training needed to become a NCPD officer

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Part one in a series of photo stories on the Nassau County Police Academy in North Massapequa. Recruits’ names were not given to protect their identities.

It’s 9 a.m. on a recent Thursday, and a contingent of Nassau County Police Department recruits is seated in the Police Academy’s auditorium, intently watching as drunk college students hurl beer bottles at a line of police officers. 

“Hey, they’ve thrown a beer bottle,” someone yells. “They’re chucking beer bottles. That is so freaky.”

The recruits are reviewing film of a near-riotous college party, as police officers move in to break up the crowd. Much as football players analyze game films with their coaches, these recruits, all dressed in crisp, gray button-down shirts, black ties and black slacks, are dissecting films of actual police approaches to worst-case scenarios that they may encounter at some point in their careers. Instructors go over the police tactics step by step, minute by minute.

The recruits are learning about the necessity for self-control in the face of danger. 

Meanwhile, down the hall in the gym, recruits are flipping and spinning each other with all manner of wrestling takedowns, their bodies thumping audibly against the gray-and-blue mats, a massive, circular NCPD insignia staring down at them from one wall. On this day, recruits are taking their Defense Tactics exam after three months of intense training, when they studied what to do — and what not to do — when arresting a suspect. Instructors evaluate their every move, noting when a hand hold, for example, might be off by a few inches. 

And throughout the academy, recruits are spread out in classrooms, learning about the ethics of police work. Most are social distancing, except during the Defense Tactics exam, and mask wearing is required, even during the test. 

The recruits study both in the classroom and through a series of simulations at various venues, which imitate policing on the streets, including car chases, said Master Trainer Chris Boccio, who grew up in Lynbrook.

NCPD requires a significantly more rigorous training program than New York state mandates — Nassau puts cadets through 1,050 to 1,200 hours of training over seven months, compared to the minimum 639 hours that the state requires for basic police training.

More to come.

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