Earning the Badge: Tactics

Wright State University — Lake Campus Police Academy Cadet Joey Morlino peaks around the corner as he works to clear a stairwell during a training session at Midwest Shooting Center.
Assistant Editor

While the gunshots ringing out in the dynamic training area of Midwest Shooting Center were not live rounds, the scenarios the cadets from the Wright State University — Lake Campus Police Academy were running through were very real. 

Under instruction from active and retired sheriff deputies and police officers, cadets got to put various pieces of their training together as they conducted three days of building search training. Given realistic, limited information cadets had to move as team and individuals through darkened rooms, stairwells and hallways to find any potential threats. Once they found someone during a search, other aspects such as threat assessment, negotiation and tactical engagements had to be decided on and used in split-second decisions. 

“Intense,” said Cadet Dalton Schmersal when asked what the scenarios were like. 

“It was intense but it’s definitely very important because when that real life situation happens, we want to be as prepared as we could possibly be,” added Cadet Ian Younts. 

Tuesday’s training began slowly with no training rounds fired as instructors put the class through the basics of building searches using rubber “blue guns.” During that day’s work, the cadets learned how to communicate effectively and what to be aware of as they worked their way around without the fear of being hit by one of the Simunition training rounds. 

While the paint tipped “bullets” are non-lethal they add the added element of danger and the physical reaction that happens once the trigger is pulled. 

“They hurt a lot more than you would think,” Schmersal said.  

On Wednesday the cadets got a visit from local K-9 officers and their handlers as the future officers learned the importance of knowing what to do if a K-9 is on the scene. It also gave them a chance to see the dogs in action and showed the uses they have when it comes to searching for and apprehending subjects. 

By the time Thursday’s lesson came around, it was time to put everyone to the test with realistic scenarios. 

From deescalating a situation with a mentally ill person armed with a knife to taking down a simulated active shooter, training ran the gamut of calls an officer is likely to respond to. 

“With everything going on, you just had to keep your mindset of ‘I have to get to this to stop’ because I can’t deal with the people laying here begging for help until the shooting stops,” Schmersal said. “Everything was going on all at once and it felt real.” 

“It’s the most intense one,” Younts agreed. “All the other ones were pretty intense too but those ones were moving through the building slowly, trying to remain as calm as possible but with the last one, we’re hearing screaming and gunshots going off and, our mindset was just to get to that as quick as we possibly could to stop it. 

“I’ve learned throughout our training that no matter what the call is, never ever take it lightly; never let up on it because it might be the same mentally ill person struggling with something and it usually always works out but you never really know what you’re walking in to.”