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Air Force Academy hosts police training

By TONY PECK | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: July 23, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — In a program that showed off tight bonds between military cops and their civilian counterparts, the Fountain Police Department used Air Force Academy land last week to train in scenarios that included spurned lovers, car chases and officer-involved shootings.

The academy often hosts local police, allowing the departments to train out of the public eye using the military facilities.

“We do this about six to 10 times a year,” said Chris Jannereth, the training officer for 10th Security Forces Squadron based at the Air Force Academy.

“We actually share a lot of our training.”

The all-inclusive policy goes both ways, “if they have training we would like to attend, they always invite us,” he said.

The shared training also allows departments that see more violent crimes to prepare others for a bad day, Jannereth said.

The collaboration ensures that agencies can quickly support others in need. Fountain police will call on El Paso County sheriff’s deputies or Colorado Springs police during major incidents.

And last year, the Air Force Academy requested aid from departments as far as Denver during an active-shooter incident that turned out to be a harmless Nerf-gun battle in the dorms.

Wednesday’s scenario took place in abandoned military housing behind the academy’s family campground.

During the training, military police acted as suspects and victims while Fountain police treated the scenario as they would during a real-life call.

“We have a domestic incident at the house,” said Lt. Brian Pearson, leading the training for Fountain police. “An ex-boyfriend shows up at the women’s residence while the new boyfriend is there.”

The ex-boyfriend feigned fury, collected a friend and a couple of handguns and stormed the house, shooting the prior lover and her new love interest.

Pearson then acted as dispatch, received the 911 call and sent patrol officers to the house.

“We use training like this to run some of our new officers and fresh supervisors through their worst day,” Pearson said.

After the mock suspects shot up the ex-lover’s house, one fled deep into the woods while the other escaped in a stolen car.

The sergeant in charge of the scene was forced to split his forces, sending several officers to chase down the vehicle-bound suspect while others cleared the woods.

“On a daily basis, we don’t necessarily have the frequency of these incidents in Fountain,” said Sgt. Noah Walter as he orchestrated the officers on-scene.

“If we aren’t training scenarios, we are going to make mistakes.”

Officers even practiced keeping a secure perimeter, keeping media behind the yellow tape and sending a spokeswoman out to answer questions.

Eventually, all the suspects were apprehended and victims treated.

The sergeant and his officers had tested their “perishable skills” and huddled with their leadership, reviewing lessons learned.

“It forces me focus on the big picture,” Walter said. “We are here to help, and this training helps me focus on making sure my officers are able to do that to the best of their ability.”

©2018 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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