Inside the Academy one year later

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ST. LOIS COUNTY, Mo. - In the fall of 2017, Fox 2 gave viewers an exclusive look at the training at the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy. We followed police recruits from their first day at the academy through graduation.

One year later, reporter Katie Kormann caught up with two of the officers to see how they are applying the skills they learned inside the academy as they patrol the streets.

"It's amazing to see how far I feel like I've come in a year," said St. Louis County police Officer Mary Mills.

After graduating from the academy in December 2017, the recruits turned officers from Class 193 went to work for their respective departments. Their training continued on the job for a few months while learning from veteran officers.

"(The Academy) prepared me so much for the fundamentals, and there's just certain things you can't be taught in a classroom," said Mills. "You have to go out and experience it."

University City police Officer Octavia Hearon said she was able to use the skills she learned in her defensive tactics training at the academy within the first week on the job.

While her field trainer was making an arrest, Hearon said another subject tried to intervene. She said the subject resisted and she was forced to take them to the ground.

"It didn't last long, maybe about 10 seconds, but that's a long time when you're actually fighting with someone," Hearon said.

Mills is assigned to patrol north St. Louis County during the overnight shift. She says even a year into the job, she calls supervisors and fellow officers for advice.

"Every night you kind of get a call that's a little bit different from the last one, and we want to make sure that we're making the right decisions," Mills said.

Officers in University City shift between working days and nights every four weeks. Hearon says she likes working days because she gets a chance to do more community policing and interacting with the neighborhood kids.

She also stays busy patrolling the Delmar Loop where there is a lot of foot and vehicle traffic. She says her academy training comes in handy here.

"Traffic stops," Hearon said. "I still use that to this day on how to approach vehicles."

It is not an easy job, but both Mills and Hearon say they would not change a thing. Both officers are looking forward to advancing in their careers by climbing the ranks and joining specialized units in their departments.

"We get to see a lot of great things and great people every single, every single day, and that really pushes us and motivates us to be the best police officers that we can be."

Here's the link to watch the award-winning series "Inside the Academy."

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