Gary Tabke has lived a life in motion almost from his birth on an Air Force base. Attending four different high schools in various states and abroad helped to shape the individual he is today. Often the new kid in town, Gary learned early the narrow mindedness and prejudices that permeate society. It was one of the forces that drove him to become a police officer. Fourteen years of patrol including a stint as an FTO (Field Training Officer) on city streets lead to several injuries and an early retirement.
Not one to sit on his laurels, Gary started a successful swimming pool and spa design business and began coaching high school football. Five years later, the pool business has given way to a rising coaching career. Gary is currently coaching college football at a NCAA Division III school and is cofounder of two highly successful football camps in California.
A father of four and married for 25 years to the same romance writer, Gary loves helping Karin mete out plots, scenes and dialog. He also secretly harbors a love of writing and has had numerous sports articles published in his home town paper, as well as several poems of comic relief appear on various web sites. Rumor has it, Gary has the first six chapters completed of a police procedural novel that he hopes to someday see in print. Rumor also has it this is the third time the book has been started…
My book is about cops working the street and life through their eyes. I’ve incorporated many aspects of the job both funny and horrifying, as the main character works through his demons while trying to stop a string of violent bar takeover robberies. I love watching the expressions of surprise and disbelief on Karin’s face as she reads my story. Thank God it’s the story and not my writing she is reacting to. A sampling of Karin Tabke’s published list includes, What You Can’t See, Good Girl Gone Bad, Skin and the soon to be released Jaded, and Master of Surrender, Simon and Schuster. Gary can be found on his web site at: http://www.linemeninc.com/
Lee, thank you for the invitation to blog on your web site. I am an expert at nothing and couldn’t imagine why you would want my in put along side so many notables already posted here. Then my wife, Karin, pointed out all that has brought me to where I am presently. I think there is value to a life lived and experiences survived and learned from. In many ways, my life has been one tutorial after another but I’ve taken those lessons to heart. As an FTO and later as a football coach, I have tried to pass on those life lessons to others in the hope of somehow making their journey a little easier.
Training a recruit is always an experience, whether they are fresh meat out of the academy or an old salt that just transferred to your department. As per Wikipedia: The duties of the FTO involve being a role model of the expectations of training, teaching the trainee the policies of the department and to correctly apply the concepts they learned in the classroom to field operations, and evaluating the trainee on his or her progress in the program. Ultimately, the FTO is responsible for making sure shift duties are performed properly and completely, making the position a particularly challenging one.
Along with the department line, I always felt it was the duty of the FTO to make sure his recruit knew how to stay alive at three in the morning, alone in the meat grinder. The meat grinder is that section of the city where the crime rate is the highest, the income level the lowest and the neighborhoods the toughest. We worked one man cars, approximately ten-twelve per shift, plus two S-units. More than anything else, I needed to know my recruit could survive on their own.
There are several names of affection that can be given a recruit; rookie, boot, probie, trainee, asshole, idiot, Gomer Plye. The list is endless and varies with each individual and where they are with their training. There are just as many ways to test their metal. Most are by assuring the recruit gets to be in the middle of the action as often as possible. They love it when you answer up for someone else’s detail, “One-Adam-Twelve, we’ll take that for training.”
One dinosaur I worked with was a former Marine and Golden Gloves boxer. After about one week with a recruit he would have them drive to a quiet out of the way place and advise dispatch that they would be off the air for a few, “training”. He had one particular spot he liked to go and when we heard it come over the air everyone knew what was up. This officer would get out of the car and light up one of those short, thin black cigars and invite the rook to get out as well. He’d start by questioning them about their life’s experiences and then move onto personal physical altercations and self-defense training taught at the academy. This was followed by a hand to hand demonstration and finally he would invite the recruit to punch him. Actually, he’d tell the recruit to kick his ass or get his own ass kicked. Relax, almost all survived, almost all.
“Many here the call but few are called to answer.”
One young redheaded lad who was affable enough but just not very tenacious had heard the stories and was getting ribbed pretty good about his upcoming tour with the old salt FTO. To say he was nervous would be an understatement. The moment he heard his FTO advise dispatch that they were headed to the sacred spot for some training, he broke into a sweat, getting out of the car and into the conversation just added to his tension. When the big moment came, he ran around the patrol car in a panic refusing to engage his FTO who was in hot pursuit. After several minutes of this the FTO got back in the vehicle and told the rook to drive them to the station. 25% of our recruits washed out for one reason or another and Red ended up in that group.
There is much a recruit must learn and be taught. Being an FTO is a huge responsibility and must be taken seriously. They need to learn procedure, report writing, citation writing, officer safety, General Orders, the penal code, the traffic code, municipal codes, investigation techniques, driving skills, firearms, self defense, patience and when to escalate things. Knowing how to roll code three, talk on the radio and hold a cup of coffee at the same time isn’t bad to know either. However, common sense and a command presence pretty much have to be inherent.
When I left the FTO program I was told they were going in a different direction than in the past. They wanted training officers who would be “cheerleaders and mentors”. I never wanted to work with a guy or gal who needed a hug to get through a shift. In the end, I guess I too had become a dinosaur.
Books by Karin Tabke