Marines West Magazine October 2005

Poolees participate in law enforcement training

Sgt. Phuong Chau

Gunshots ring while teenagers scream for help as they run from the entrance of a building that bears a similar resemblance to a high school. A masked gunman storms through the double doors firing his automatic pistol. Police officers dressed in tactical gear such as facemasks, bulletproof vests and combat boots surround the large window clad building firing rounds with lethal precision at the aggressor.

A passerby might have mistaken the scene as a terrorist attack or robbery. In fact, this was actually a training exercise referred to as Active Shooter Response Training where law enforcement members learn how to respond to an incident such as a hostage situation or suicide, where there are hostile individuals threatening harm. This type of training was prompted by incidents such as the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 where gunmen held a high school hostage, which resulted in a number of injuries and casualties.

Nick Minzghor, master police officer for the King County Sheriff's Department, contract city of Kenmore, was one of the instructors for the training. He says that during the Columbine incident, that the aggressors were unopposed for 52 minutes. This type of training prepares law enforcement to respond to a crisis like this with minimal response time.

More than 40 future Marines currently in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) participated in a training exercise for local law enforcement members Aug 12 in Kenmore, Wash. Recruiting Substations Everett, Bellevue and Northgate used the training evolution as a pool functions for their DEP. Poolees served in various scripted scenarios where they played the role of hostages. This gave officers the realism necessary to endure that they become proficient in tactics to respond to such a situation. Prior to the beginning of the training, officers briefed the poolees on what was to take place and the behavior that was expected of them. Officers would be using simulation rounds that were made of plastic filled with colored detergent to mark a hit. They would be using 50 percent force when working with hostages and aggressors.

According to GySgt. Homer Sanchez, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, RSS Everett, many of the members of the DEP, had aspirations to enter law enforcement in the Marine Corps or after their service is completed. He used the event as a way to motivate poolees and to give them a better understanding of the tactics that are used in hostage or terrorist situations. It was also an opportunity to build the community relations program between the Marine Corps and local law enforcement while also keeping the poolees motivated about the Marines.

One motivated poolee was Matt Carlson, 17, from Bellevue, Wash. "This is a great opportunity to help law enforcement. It's motivating to take part in this before going to boot camp," said Carlson, who enlisted into the Marines because he wanted to do his part for the country. "Marines are the best in the business. I respect every person in uniform, but I especially respect the Marines. I also have the utmost respect for law enforcement for what the do every day."

In one of the scenarios, a person sat in a room with a pistol pointed at him threatening to commit suicide. Officers were required to evaluate the situation while screaming poolees ran through the building. They had to determine that the individual was not a threat to others using information from screaming poolees. Some officers did well with the practical application of their training while others learned from mistakes. Once scenarios began, poolees became one with the role they were asked to play. For some, the excitement was almost too much to handle. "It was pretty exciting, I had a rush of adrenaline just when I could hear them (officers) coming," explained Caleb McPeters, 18, of Everett, Wash. McPeters had the chance to add some of his own creative inputs to the scenarios adding dialogue increasing the situation's realism.

Andrew Fobs, 17, of Shoreline, Wash. Felt this was one of the more interesting things that he has experienced in the DEP. Minzghor also served in the Marine Corps for four years prior to his service as a law enforcement agent. "I wouldn't be a cop today without having been a Marine," he said. The Marines helped instill bearing and leadership , he added. He also helps the recruiting effort by giving talks to future Marines about his experiences and the benefits of the Marine Corps. "I think this is good for us to do something helpful. We are always willing to support the community. Hopefully this training come handy later on," said Fobs.

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