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Week-long SWAT training held in Kenmare...

A unique situation unfolded in Kenmare last week when several law enforcement agencies were in town to participate in basic special weapons and tactics (SWAT) training.

7/02/19 (Tue)

A unique situation unfolded in Kenmare last week when several law enforcement agencies were in town to participate in basic special weapons and tactics (SWAT) training.

The Kenmare Police Department was the lead agency that brought 14 officers from nine neighboring law enforcement agencies together to work on a variety of scenarios.

The training, which isn’t normally done unless officers are part of a bona fide SWAT team, was funded through a grant from Vets Gaming, as well as other local support. It was secured through the National Tactics Officers Association.

“We were very satisfied with the people who attended,” Britton said. “It was a good turnout. It was actually an amazing week.”

According to Britton, the training became more intense as the week progressed.

It began on Day 1 with a safety briefing and SWAT mission and public perception, SWAT organization and structure, armed barricade suspect procedure and individual and team movement.

On Day 2, the group trained on chemical agents and less lethal covert movement and tactics.

Day 3 was reserved for high risk warrant classroom training and high risk service movement.

On Day 4, they learned about diversionary device and covert movement in a chemical agent environment and on Day 5 they carried out a full-scale scenario.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the training included officers and instructors and on Thursday and Friday, role players were included in the training.

Britton said Kenmare was ideal for the training not only because it offered props and role players, but because it is centrally located among the agencies that participated.

The group used the Kenmare High School for the classroom training and some of the movement techniques, spent some time at the Church of the Nazerene for practicals, used Britton’s house as a prop and a vacant house in which they were able to use simulator pistols that Britton described as sort of a paint gun.

Local role players included Bradley Peterson, Justin Childress, Madison Britton, Kolton Neubauer and Jessalyn and Jackie Santizo.

Instructors for the course were Marc Neal and Ben Cortina, both of Colorado Springs, Colo. They each had more than 40 years in law enforcement and Cortina retired the previous Friday from law enforcement in Connecticut.

“This training has given us better techniques and tactics in dangerous situations,” Britton said. “It has given us better skills and training to serve our communities. We’re now prepared to handle potentially dangerous situations.”

Britton said she and partner officer Chris Almlie first looked into SWAT training more than a year ago because they both know of the possible dangers of being a law enforcement officer and they wanted to be trained to serve the community of Kenmare the best they can.

“I would highly recommend this to other departments,” Britton said. “It opens your eyes to different options we have in doing the work we do every day.”

In addition, she said it gave the 14 officers a chance to develop a deeper connection and relationship with each other.

“If something happens, that’s who we’re going to call,” Britton said. “Realistically, if we had a situation, these are the people we’re calling because of mutual aid.”

The training is invaluable, not only to Britton and Almlie, but all the officers and agencies involved, according to Britton.

It taught them something most of them didn’t know, it taught them how to work efficiently as a team, because as Britton put it, small town officers don’t often work in a squad or group formation. This training removed a lot of “what ifs” that may have been there if they would have gone into a dangerous situation without knowing exactly what to do.

“This training taught us how a team operates and how to set it up,” she said. “They trained us as they would train an actual SWAT team.”

According to Almlie, the training was beneficial because small town departments often have limited resources and this training brings together several resources and departments.

“This allows us to really learn each other and our moves,” Almlie said. “It built communication bridges.”

Almlie was completely impressed with the training. He said it was so much better than he ever imagined.

“I feel safer now and can better serve the community,” he said. “It helped us make better decisions.”

He added the instructors were phenomenal. Most of the training they’ve done has been in large cities, but they adapted well to the small-town atmosphere and were able to teach the same curriculum as a city like San Bernardino or Denver.

The training definitely prepared the officers for a rapid response situation.

“It makes me confident because the surrounding officers are also prepared,” Almlie said. “It helped us open up and see the whole picture.”

The team learned a lot in a week and Almlie said it’s definitely a notch up from the police academy.

And like Britton, he said the support from Vets Gaming and the community was incredible.

“It’s what keeps us going,” he said. “It’s who we serve.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!