Tuesday, April 29, 2008

WEEK 12: Firearms training

“In law enforcement we teach the use of firearms as a tool to save the officer’s life – or somebody else’s life,” said Cullen Grisson, TEEX’s resident gun ballistics expert. “Precision marksmanship at long distances is not what police officers are normally asked to do. Usually the gun fights are at very close ranges, traffic stops, pedestrian stops or inside a home – those are the real threats to their safety. Part of it is marksmanship, but a lot of it is the physical and psychological elements involved.”

The firearms training actually started last Friday, after a week of learning about field note taking and report writing. Friday the cadets learned about gun safety, the different types of weapons and why certain weapons are better suited for law enforcement. Basically, it’s a new gun owner’s program.

According to Grissom, some of the cadets will have a gun in their home for the first time.

“Peace officers are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “So they will be living with a weapon and we try to prepare them to take the gun into their home and what that means in terms of safety.”

Some of the cadets have had experiences with weapons.

“I actually shot for the
Texas A&M Pistol Team in college,” said College Station PD recruit Kellye Cozart. “It is totally and completely different form of shooting and it has absolutely no application for the shooting we are doing here. The stress level is also a lot higher here.”

Bryan PD cadet Georgia Maher learned to shoot once she knew she wanted to become a police officer.

“I’ve been shooting since August of 2007 and since then I shoot quite often at firing ranges,” she said. “I knew this was the line of work I wanted to get into and until August I’ve never had any formal instruction in shooting.” (See Goergia’s patterns on the target to the left.)

Other cadets have very little experience with firearms.

“Sometimes this is the first time some of these folks have ever held or fired a weapon,” Grissom said.

“I haven’t fired a weapon since I was about seven-years-old,” Chad Jones with the College Station PD said. “My dad had a .22 rifle and he let me shoot it one time. This is first time I’ve shot since then. I was nervous and I’ve definitely got some practicing to do.”

They’ll get plenty of practice this week …

“Each student will shoot between 700 and 1,100 rounds with their handgun and a shotgun,” Grissom said. “We take them from basic marksmanship skills all the way up through shooting and moving and using cover, which are the more practical fighting skills that they will hopefully never have to use.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

What’s someone from the fire department doing in the police academy?

When you scan the classroom or see all 23 cadets together, one immediately catches your attention. William Bouse, who’s a 20-year EMS veteran with the Bryan Fire Department.

Bouse, at a spry 47 years, is 27 years older than the youngest cadet in the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy.

“It’s an interesting aspect when some of the instructors are younger than you,” Bouse chuckled.

While working for an electrical firm and serving as a volunteer firefighter, Bouse took a basic and then an intermediate EMT class through the
Kinesiology Department at Texas A&M. About the time the latter of the two classes was wrapping up, he took a test with the Bryan Fire Department and was hired as an Emergency Medical Technician.

You might be wondering why a 20-year veteran of the Bryan FIRE Department is going through the police academy. Bouse was recently promoted to arson investigator and in Texas, all arson investigators must be licensed peace officers.

Does he ever get ribbed by his classmates for being the elder statesman of the group?

“We give him a hard time every now and then, but not too often” said 24-year-old recruit
Cody Chandler. “Everybody here calls each other by their last name, but instead of calling him just ‘Bouse,’ we call him ‘Mr. Bouse.’ You could call it a healthy respect for his age and he fits in great with the rest of the class.”

“I hope I bring across a feeling that they can come and talk to me about issues,” Bouse said. “Issues that they feel like somebody with more years and experience might be of help.”

Evidently, that is the case … “He is a wealth of knowledge,” Chandler added. “Especially when we’re learning stuff like we’re learning right now.

Thursday and Friday the cadets learned basic
first aid and CPR. And that’s right up Mr. Bouse’s alley.

“It’s absolutely important that all first responders have a basic level of first aid and CPR training,” Bouse said. “It’s also important that they can recognize what is life-threatning and what is not, be able to stabilize the scene and be able to pass on some information to the EMS when they arrive.”

Interesting tidbits:

Monday and Tuesday the cadets studied accident investigation. Wednesday they had a guest speaker from the
Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission and learned basic information about hazardous materials situations.

Bouse is not the only member of a fire department in the police academy. Gerald Burnett with the Bryan Fire Department is also earning his peace officer certification for the exact same reason as Bouse. (Both pictured to the left.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Friday, the cadets got certified to used OC spray! We'll let the video and pictures tell the story ...

Are you sure you're ready to be sprayed?

Washing off afterwords ...

It gets everywhere!

It affected some worse than others.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Patrol Procedures … and the half-way mark!

The cadets of the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy are officially on the downhill side of the mountain. As the ninth week of the 17-week academy draws to an end, the cadets continue to add skills to their repertoire.

Monday and Tuesday was more class time where the students learned procedures they will use during traffic stops and while searching buildings.

Wednesday morning, the cadets practiced how they would approach a stop if there was not a known risk – your basic traffic stop done by a single officer.

That afternoon, they practiced procedures relative to a high-risk situation.

“A high-risk situation is when the officer knows there is a problem,” TEEX instructor Larry Frye said. “It could be a stop of a car that was stolen or been involved in a bank robbery. In these types of cases, the officer will call for back-up to assist.”

For their own safety, the future officers are learning to treat every stop with caution.

“Safety is always the top priority,” said Ryan Clements, a recruit with the College Station PD. “Something could happen at every stop you make and you always have to be ready, even though the last 100 stops you have made have been without incident. Complacency can get you killed.”

Thursday the procedures shifted to searching houses. TEEX has three residential prop house used exactly for this type of training. The houses are old living quarters from the Bryan Air Force Base that once was located at Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus.

“Searching buildings is more difficult,” said self-funded recruit Ethan Patton. “There are more places for people to be and once you get someone secured in the building, you not only have to worry about searching them, but also if there is someone else in the building. You can see what is going on in the vehicle more than in a building.”

After every group of students perform a traffic stop or clear a house, the instructors gather all the students together and there is a frank discussion about what went right and what went wrong.

The instruction is non-stop during the hands-on portions of the training and the theme is always the same. According to Frye, “We want them to make their mistakes here and not make them again.”

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pushing it to the limit … the car that is!

When the call comes from dispatch and an officer needs to get to the scene quickly, hopefully this will not happen …

And that is exactly why the members of the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy were put through rigorous driving training (see video below) during the eighth week of the 17-week class.

Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus is located on the site of what used to be the Bryan Air Force Base. Tons of concrete from the old runways provided the ideal spot to learn to drive fast, brake hard – and most importantly – do it all safely.

Face it, at some point in a law enforcement officer’s career – probably more often than you’d think – he or she will have to respond to an emergency call or be in a pursuit situation.

The TEEX emergency vehicle driving track helps students to safely respond to incidents by giving them hands-on practice that builds confidence in their equipment and individual performance in emergency driving situations.

Specifically, there are six driving maneuvers – or driving courses – the students must master before the week is over.

All the courses help develop hand-eye coordination and help the student develop a “feel” for the vehicle’s dynamics and control. Additionally, each course helps develop a unique skill set.

It’s not easy! If there were no time constraints placed on finishing the courses, the “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” could get through all the courses with no problems. But there are time constraints, and in some cases speed minimums as well.

For instance, let’s take a look at the Serpentine course. There are five cones placed in a straight line. Each cone is 60 feet apart. The driver has to enter the obstacle at 35 mph and exit through a 12-foot gate at the end of the obstacle going at least 35 mph. (In the video above, from 0:23 to 0:45 is footage of the Serpentine course)

That’s not hard enough for you? The Precision Maneuvering course is a combination of three separate courses that test all of a cadet’s driving skills in a confined area: sharp turning, backing, acceleration, controlled braking … you get the idea. The students have three minutes to finish the series of courses and can only hit six cones. (In the video above, from 0:45 to the end is footage of the Precision Maneuvering course)

Do not try any of this at home.

If you do, in about nine weeks one of these cadets may be issuing you a citation!