FBI provides training for local officers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 14, 2000

Staff Writer

Oct. 14, 2000 10 PM

SHELLHORN ­ Whenever a law enforcement officer dons a uniform, he or she never knows what might happen.

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That lesson couldn’t have been made more clear than during a two-day training held in Pike County for officers from all over Southeast Alabama.

On Thursday and Friday, a total of 50 law enforcement officers from 20 different departments when through officer survival training conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Violent Crime Task Force.

Officers are mandated by law to have 12 hours of training per year and deputies from the Pike County Sheriff’s Department fulfilled some of those requirements by participating in the training co-sponsored by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Association and the PCSD. It is recommended that officers receive some sort of training every three months.

Because of the valuable lessons that could be learned, Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas had all of his sworn officers go through the training either Thursday or Friday.

"This is the most realistic training you can go through," said Capt. Dennis Riley, who oversees training for the PCSD.

Officers went through scenarios involving traffic stops, building searches, domestic situations and probate calls involving mentally unstable individuals.

"Anything the officer would answer on the streets, that’s what they do," Riley said of the training exercises.

Using a regular handgun loaded with paint-filled bullets, the officers went through the exercises, then instructors evaluated what they did correctly and what they should have done differently.

Waynne Ward, executive director of the Alabama Peace Officers’ Association, said the officers went through four hours of classroom training and four hours of field training.

He said training such as what was done this past week is valuable because it allows officers to "stop and think about what they did wrong" when that isn’t possible in a real situation.

"It looks like it’s a game, but it’s for real," Ward said. "Training is the name of the game in law enforcement."

He said training is most beneficial for those officers who have been in the business a while.

"After you’ve been in it (law enforcement) a while, you become complacent," Ward said. "It doesn’t take but one call for you not to be around anymore."

Thomas said he hopes to host training, like the one held this week, each year.

"This is good, quality training," Thomas said.

"Hopefully, this training is life saving," the sheriff said. "Out here, you can afford to make a mistake.

"With this type of training ­ you can never get enough," Thomas said.

And, to make it even better, the training didn’t cost the county anything.

Some of the participants said they enjoyed working in the county’s new training facility at the old Shellhorn School property the Pike County Board of Education recently gave the department permission to use.

Thomas said without the cooperation of the PCBOE and the Pike County Commission, the training facility would not have been possible.