Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

October 26, 2004 > Interview with Matt Bocage

Interview with Matt Bocage

TCV: What have the last couple of weeks been like for you?

Bocage: Pretty good. We just finished up our weekend investigations and that was a very profound experience. We had a very, very good time up there. I learned an awful lot. We had our first homicide go down on Wednesday. There was a barricaded subject and hostage situation. That was quite an ordeal. I wasn't actually at the scene like Ramin was, but I got to see how the department responds to this type of crisis situation. It was pretty exciting to see and I got a chance to participate in the investigation.

The suspect had a safe in his house that was seized after a search warrant was obtained. With the assistance of Detective Mark Dang, I was able to get into the safe and see evidence inside. There was some stuff that should be very helpful to the investigation inside of it.

TCV: Was this done "by the book?" Was it something that you had learned about coming to life?

Bocage: We didn't receive much training on background investigation but as far as I could tell, it was extremely by the book. There's a lot of detail that goes on behind the scenes just to make sure that the investigation is ironclad and that we get a good conviction, a good case out of it. They really spare no expense in time or energy to make sure that everything is done by the book. It's pretty exciting.

TCV: Did you write up any of the reports? What were you doing?

Bocage: I wound up documenting the evidence seizure I spoke about earlier in a supplementary report. The thing about the reports is for normal cases, you'll get an original report and then you'll have one or two, sometimes three supplemental reports. Sometimes it's just the original only, depending on what actually happened in your case.

In this case, I wrote the 22nd supplemental report! And, there's more to be done. It's going to be quite a volume when it's all said and done. Great case, though. It was a fantastic training experience. Ramin actually had the opportunity to be at the scene at the time.

TCV: What else were you doing in the investigation unit?

Bocage: I had an opportunity to tie up a lot of loose ends in cases that we had taken from being on patrol. We actually had a chance to finally sit down and close a lot of them, get the final interviews, the final statements from cases that were a week or more old. We had an opportunity to work with the Secret Service, the Department of Treasury, for a couple of days. That was pretty interesting. They were working a case in town so we got a chance to meet a couple of those guys and do some surveillance. It was pretty impressive - pretty unique to see.

TCV: Are the relationships good between the local law enforcement and secret service?

Bocage: Yes, very good. Very cordial. Very professional. A lot of the things that we do are similar. They are all really nice guys. Everyone got along great, there was a lot of joking around.

TCV: You are now finished with swing shift. Are you going to traffic?

Bocage: We finished phase two last week - investigations this past week - and next week, I'll start with traffic. We have a full week of that. That's basically citing moving violations, writing tickets and taking collision reports. Ramin and I will be working the same shift. It should be pretty exciting.

TCV: After working with Investigations, are you interested in pursing that type of police work?

Bocage: At this point, I can't say that I'm interested in one more than the other. It's very, very different. The pace itself is very different. On patrol, everything is going at one thousand miles per hour - it's very, very fast paced. It's call to call to call. You do have an opportunity to do some follow up on your cases but not to the degree that investigations do.

Investigators have the authority to leave town - we were in San Leandro doing some interviews with a couple of juvenile victims and stuff earlier in the week. They get to go wherever the cases take them, be it out of city, out of county, out of state. They get to follow up all the loose ends. They have the time to be as thorough as they need to be. The pace is definitely different. Sometimes it can be pretty relaxed, pretty slow, other times these guys, they never go home. It's neat to see the contrast between the two. Investigation is absolutely an ambition of mine somewhere down the road. It usually takes a few years to get there. I definitely see myself there at some point in my career.

TCV: Talking about the paper work, is this more than you expected?

Bocage: I think it's a little bit more. Each agency is different but the degree of documentation that we are responsible for in our agency is pretty significant. You get used to it. There's a lot of documentation involved. It's a good thing. Ultimately, their goal is to get a conviction and have successful prosecution. The degree of documentation definitely helps in that. It's still strikes me to see how much we actually have to write, how much documentation gets done to sustain these cases.

TCV: How do you feel now? Are you feeling a little more confident about these things? Are you getting enough experience under your belt?

Bocage: Confidence is a tricky thing because even though our exposure level increases every week, so do expectations. You have got to keep performing at a higher and higher level to get the same amount of positive feedback. I don't mind the higher expectations, but you need to learn how to eliminate the little things. It's still kind of tough, because we're still only ten or eleven weeks in so it's all good. I'm definitely not complaining. I need to continue to pick it up, I need to continue to learn and perform at increasingly higher rates to enjoy the kudos that I was enjoying earlier on in the program.

TCV: Does it seem like a long time ago when you went to academy?

Bocage: It seems like forever. We graduated at the end of June and it doesn't feel like that happened this year. At the same time, the ten or eleven weeks that we have been in the FTO program seem like nothing. I could probably be in an FTO program for months longer than we're actually supposed to before I actually feel comfortable. I think it's an appropriate amount of time. The learning curve is high, the pace is fast, but I think the goal is to get you as much exposure as possible in a reasonable amount of time. You can't have the training wheels on forever. Eventually, the city needs you. They're paying you to be out there doing a job and that can't have you on a training mode for too long.

TCV: Where do you go from traffic?

Bocage: After traffic I move into the third phase, which will be with Officer [Donn]Tassano, a very experienced, knowledgeable officer. We'll be moving to "mid" shift. The hours will be from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. We'll basically be in darkness from start to finish.

TCV: Where do you see things going from there? Is that the end of the program or do you go on to something else?

Bocage: After the four weeks with what we call your tertiary FTO, you rotate back to your primary FTO, which in my case would be Officer Gregg Crandall, and you're with him for two weeks. It's no longer a training phase at that point, it's purely an evaluation phase called a shadow phase. They're there, but they're not there. They're in the car for the first week, and then they take an unmarked vehicle out with you for the second week.

The time for leaning on the shoulder of the FTO is pretty much over. At that point you have to rely on your fellow field officers. If you have any questions, you bounce ideas off of them, as you would as a solo patrol officer rather than leaning on your FTO for the answers. The evaluation can be extended in any given phase depending on how your training is going. The little mistakes can add up to a lot.

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