Military News

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Grand Forks AFB hosts Active Shooter Response Tactics Course

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

9/8/2015 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Nearly two dozen law enforcement officers from various agencies across the region came together here during the first week of September 2015 for some classroom and hands-on training dealing with active shooter scenarios.

The training was led by officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Facility in Harpers Ferry, W. Virginia., and was designed for students to enhance their existing knowledge and skills in order to share them with their own respective organizations.

The training is derived from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University. The center was created in 2002 as a partnership between the university, the San Marcos Police Department and the Hays County Sherriff's Office to address the need for active shooter response training for first responders.

"This whole week has been full of really great training," said Ben Deckert, East Grand Forks Police Department. "The instructors have done really well imparting all this knowledge that they've shared with us. They really know their stuff."

Deckert said the training gave him a valuable opportunity to work together with other members of law enforcement that may otherwise be hard to come by.

"Interagency cooperation is such a big deal," he said. "The more we work together, the better we can figure out where our strengths are and hone those and the better we can identify where we need improvement and come up with ways to streamline."

The instructors had their own positive feedback about the progress of the course.

"One of our biggest goals in conducting this week-long training is to take law enforcement officers from diverse backgrounds and spheres of experience and put them in dynamic, close-quarters situations and watch them tackle problems by applying the instruction we've offered them to practical, realistic situations," said Russell Church, supervisory border patrol agent at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Use of Force Center of Excellence. Church also served as a course developer and instructor for the training.

"What these guys also may not realize is that we are learning just as much from them as they are from us," he said. "With the export training offered by our mobile training teams, we get to go out on location and see these officers at work in their own familiar surroundings. We get to see the interoperability of state, local, tribal, military and many other types of law enforcement agencies and see how they fit together and work together."

Staff Sgt. Cody Crunelle, 319th Security Forces Squadron trainer, agreed.

"These scenarios are all about controlled chaos and fostering closer relationships between different law enforcement agencies," he said. "The goal is to inflict as much stress as possible in a safe environment. That way, if there are mistakes made, it won't cost any lives as a result, and it serves as a great learning opportunity and confidence booster for next time."

Not only that, but setting up scenarios with hostages, non-combatant casualties and other innocents are a great way to force players to be more cautious with their reactions and more judicious with their use of force, he said.

"The more different kinds of people you can throw into a scenario, the more it forces them to be selective about how they respond," said Crunelle.

Church and the other instructors expressed their gratitude to the 319th SFS and Grand Forks Air Force Base for their support and hospitality, as well as Grand Forks Public Schools for accommodating the training group with the use of the currently unused Carl Ben Eielson Elementary School, which was shut down in 2014.

"This whole experience for everyone has been phenomenal I think," he said. "The Air Force has bent over backwards to help us make this training a success, and we would really like to extend our thanks to everyone who helped make this a reality. We want to show that cops have a vested interest in protecting and serving our communities, and this is one way we can effectively do that."

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