TREXPO is both a trade show and an educational conference for law enforcement officers. And this year's TREXPO West held recently in Long Beach, Calif., offered excellent training opportunities for both SWAT and patrol officers.
The conference schedule at TREXPO West included hands-on physical combat training, anti-terror programs, a tactical medicine program, classes on a variety of SWAT operations, and even a special program about crime in schools. Here's a quick look at some of the highlights.
One of the most provocative classes was "Dynamics of Violent Confrontation: SWAT Tactics and a System to Win" taught by retired Los Angeles PD SWAT legend Ron McCarthy. A 20-year veteran of LAPD SWAT, McCarthy gave a presentation on what was right and what was wrong about contemporary SWAT tactics and police politics. He discussed a number of critical incidents involving SWAT teams and discussed the danger of taking barricaded suspects too lightly. "A barricaded suspect with a handgun can easily kill police officers," McCarthy said. He also warned officers and administrators that they can't wish their problems away. "Do not hope that doing nothing will actually do something," he said.
Noted psychologist and police use-of-force expert Alexis Artwohl made a return appearance at this year's TREXPO West. In her class, "Investigating Use of Force and Other Critical Incidents," Artwohl discussed some of the effects that officer-involved shootings have on police officers. Artwohl, co-author of "Deadly Force Encounters," discussed how memories are affected by combat stress and how this can skew investigations into officer-involved shootings.
Also making a return appearance at TREXPO West was Commander Sid Heal of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Heal, one of the world's leading authorities on less-lethal weapon development and deployment, discussed how less-lethal weapons are being used by American and foreign police forces. As part of this presentation, he detailed how Russian Special Forces used fentanyl gas in the infamous Moscow theater incident.
Bio-terrorism was also a topic addressed at TREXPO West. Elliott Grollman, chairman of the Law Enforcement Working Group on Weapons of Mass Destruction for the Metro Washington Council of Governments, gave a presentation of first responder reaction to WMD attacks, focusing primarily on anthrax letters. Grollman enlisted the aid of the Long Beach Fire Department for a table top exercise involving both police and Hazmat operations.
As always, this year's TREXPO West presented plenty of opportunities for attendees to learn hands-on defensive tactics techniques, including Krav Maga, weapons retention, and knife defense. Perhaps the most unusual of these courses was "Justified Lethal Force Injuries and Application" presented by Las Vegas-based Target-Focus Training. The course taught officers how to inflict severe injury-ruptured eyes, broken tracheas, dislocated knee caps-on attackers using just their empty hands and feet. At the beginning of the program, the instructors showed video from patrol cameras that proved the need for such training. It was sobering viewing to watch officers overwhelmed by huge assailants.
This year's TREXPO West included two new seminar tracks: Campus Safety and Tactical Medicine.
Led by the staff of Campus Safety Magazine (a sister publication of POLICE), the Campus Safety conference focused on two issues that affect both campus police and municipal and county officers: gangs and active shooters. It also featured a panel discussion on how campus officers and non-campus officers can work together to make schools safer.
The Tactical Medicine conference was also a big draw, not just for police officers but also for trauma surgeons and emergency room physicians. One of the highlights of this conference was the "Wound Ballistics" presentation by Dr. Sydney Vail. This presentation should be required viewing for all patrol officers because it showed in no uncertain terms that handgun rounds have great limitations when it comes to stopping deadly threats.