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The 2022 International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) Conference & Expo in St. Louis, MO, this week amazes me with the wealth of information and experiences it provides to trainers.

Here's a quick look at some of the classes I attended Wednesday.

Officer Greg Thudium, a veteran SWAT officer from the Chandler (AZ) Police Department, shows one of several tourniquets in the Officer Down class. -

Officer Greg Thudium, a veteran SWAT officer from the Chandler (AZ) Police Department, shows one of several tourniquets in the Officer Down class.

Officer Down - Rescue Tactics and Field Trauma for First Responders

Instructor Officer Greg Thudium, a veteran SWAT officer from the Chandler (AZ) Police Department, opened by telling class attendees that there have been 196 officer-involved shootings in Maricopa County, AZ, during the past three years. His department had about 5 or 6 officers shot during each of the past two years. Thudium said he thinks some SWAT tactics can be taught to patrol officers to better prepare them for responding to an officer down situation.

Thudium has 21 years in law enforcement plus 14 years as a SWAT operator and is an assistant team leader. He is lead training officer for his department and is a master instructor for defensive tactics, physical fitness, and high-risk vehicle stops. He holds instructor certifications in firearms, hostage rescue, active killer response, less-lethal munitions, and gas munitions.

He walked the class through an explanation of the duties of the two teams needed – the cover team and the rescue team. In explaining the need to reach a downed officer, he said bounding overwatch is the most effective way to move and is based on “very quick” movements between points of cover.

“You only move when someone is covering you,” he stresses.

The movement, even in a high-stress situation, is not random. Thudium says you do not move from one point of cover until you have a plan where you are going and why. He also points out you need enough officers to cover all threat areas.

The rescue team’s objective is to evacuate the downed officer as quickly as possible. Get in. Get out. Once the wounded person is evacuated to cover, the triage process can begin.

The veteran SWAT officer quickly credited his local fire department and suggested to class attendees that their local firefighters can be a resource. Firefighters are trained in rescuing and carrying victims, whether a one-man carry, a two-man carry, or other technique.

“Your local fire department has awesome stuff on this,” he says.

Both teams must function together and have clear communications such as “move” and “moving,” “covering,” “reloading,” and “threat” with also a report of the direction of the threat.

“When you are called to an officer down, more than likely the suspect is still alive,” Thudium cautions. Many times, they have fled the scene he says, but arriving officers reach the shooting scene and have no guarantee the shooter is not still on scene. “Rolling into this rescue I’ve got to be thinking 360 degrees.”

He provided several diagrams to show how responding units can be placed in strategic positions to offer the cover team the ability to take positions behind vehicle engine blocks while others rescue the downed officer back to a safe area.

He also touched on the use of Target Specific Directed Fire, saying that officers need to learn the value of it and train accordingly. What the military would term as suppressive fire can be used by cover teams to allow the rescue team time to move the wounded. However, he pointed out you are still required to justify every round you fire. He said departments need to plan in advance.

“If you train to do this, your department needs to adopt a policy for Target Specific Directed Fire,” he says.

Thudium provided instruction on wound care, with focus on arterial wounds and detailing the need to pack wounds not just bandage them. He displayed several forms of tourniquets and bandages and passed them around the room and said each officer needs to carry an individual first aid kit (IFAK) with a tourniquet.

At times like at the Boston Marathon bombing, the numbers of injured individuals have exceeded medical supplies and tourniquets. Thudium says with the high number of casualties, many responders had to improvise tourniquets. Although having a tourniquet ready when needed is preferable, one can be improvised with anything that can be used as a strap and the addition of a windless by using a stick, a pipe, or baton.

ILEETA Expo

For two days, the expo portion of the ILEETA Conference gave all of us a chance to stretch and take a break from the lectures and courses and still gain new information. Although the expo is not huge, exhibitors provided a wealth of information, most of which was geared toward training or training-related gear.

An ILEETA attendee checks out the function of DryFireMag during the expo. -

An ILEETA attendee checks out the function of DryFireMag during the expo.

I had heard of DryFireMag, and at the expo I gave it a try. The problem with dry fire training has always been the need to manipulate the slide to reset the trigger. Therefore, dry firing was good basically for the first shot and allowed no training for follow up or multiple shots. Well, DryFireMag has solved that problem. It basically is a mag, which your order for your specific firearm, that seats in normally and resets the trigger for you each time. Stan Seigler, owner and inventor, had several on the table for anyone to try.

There were ample range-related displays, vehicular weapons storage solutions, and training aids on display throughout the expo. When I saw the 9-Hole Firing Barricade from US Molders on display I had to check it out. It was lightweight and seemed durable. The manufacturer pitches that it will last indefinitely. I liked that it could be slid over 4x4 posts to anchor it, yet it could easily be moved and staged in another area.

Several apparel or footwear companies were on hand, a few holster brands, and several other accessory providers. However, many exhibitors provided training solutions that focus more on curriculum and courses.

In talking to the two gentlemen from ALERRT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training) Center I learned more about how their training is based on research. That research comes in the form of ALERRT’s being part of Texas State University. Since 2002, ALERRT has been awarded more than $86 million in state and federal grant funding and has trained more than 180,000 law enforcement, fire officials, EMS, and other first responders nationwide in dynamic, force-on-force scenario-based training.  I was curious to learn if the training was just for large departments and found it was not. They explained they now have scaled trainings to reach smaller, more rural departments. A small department will land a grant and use that to host an ALERRT course. The host agency will enroll some of its officers to participate but also will invite others from surrounding agencies to join the training

A Wrap Technologies master instructor teaches about the BolaWrap 150 during a certification class for instructors. -

A Wrap Technologies master instructor teaches about the BolaWrap 150 during a certification class for instructors.

BolaWrap Certifies Instructors on New Generation Of Device

Finally, I checked out some of the side rooms on the far end of the facility opposite from the expo. I hate to say that the day I visited the BolaWrap room I found the ongoing demonstrations of the deployment were all done the day before. But, when I walked in something better was happening on Wednesday.

The staff of BolaWrap instructors were teaching a class to qualify new instructors to go back to their departments ready to teach. The instructor certification was a five-hour course and involved live fire on two mannequins.

“What we have seen is as it gains traction and adoption by different agencies, I think instructors will realize that if they want to stay current with what is happening in law enforcement it benefits them to get the instructor certification,” says Mario Knapp, of Wrap Technologies.

“The technology has been gaining traction, especially with the new device since it was launched, and people recognize it as a force avoidance tool by means of remote restraint,” adds Knapp.

The original BolaWrap 100 used mechanical firing with a .380 blank charge that would deploy the restraint. The next generation was launched in Oct. 2021. The new flagship product is the BolaWrap 150. It is all electronic and the mechanism for deployment is a micro gas generator, similar to what is used to deploy vehicle airbags.

Two ILEETA participants watch the center screen of VirTra’s V-300 as the instructor shows how he changes settings and characters in the scenario. -

Two ILEETA participants watch the center screen of VirTra’s V-300 as the instructor shows how he changes settings and characters in the scenario.

VirTra Offers Immersive Training Simulation With V-300

Nearby in a darkened room, VirTra was running its V-300 simulator. The V-300 is a judgmental use-of-force, decision-making simulator with 300 degrees of immersion that translates into real-world survival skills. As I peered in, two ILEETA participants were mid scenario as they searched a mall for an active shooter. The 300-degree immersion is not just delivered through the five visual screens, but directional audio too. I watched the officers swivel their heads to the reactions of sounds over their shoulders as they sought out the shooter, who had fled out into a parking lot.

The scenario was fun to watch, but what was more fascinating was a behind-the-scenes look when the VirTra trainer showed the controls and how he could add, delete, or change characters and situations in his computer menu.

During a break in the action I talked with Kyle Sadewhite, a regional sales manager for VirTra.

“When VirTra started, this was one of the first systems we came out with. It was the first system, the multi-screen system, so we have had many years to perfect this and dial it in. The company has done a great job at evolving with technology and adjusting our training techniques to current landscapes and what departments are training on,” says Sadewhite.

He said during ILEETA, VirTra ran a lot of de-escalation scenarios, including ones involving mental health awareness.

“What sets us apart as a company from some of the other ones out there is the amount of branching options that we have and the instructor-led scenarios are huge,” says Sadewhite.

Attorney Marie D’Amico talks about the need for officers to articulate specifics about threats they faced when making decisions as she simulates a shooting stance. -

Attorney Marie D’Amico talks about the need for officers to articulate specifics about threats they faced when making decisions as she simulates a shooting stance.

You're Sued! Understand 1983 and Train for Your Defense

After my seeing so many training options, there was one class I visited where I learned there may be one area where training is lacking – or maybe has not been covered since the academy, according to the instructors teaching the session. Marie D’Amico, of Legal Force E.T.C. LLC., is an attorney, a force science analyst, NRA firearms instructor, and serves as general counsel for Kahr Firearms Group. She was joined by Dan Carlson, a law enforcement recruit training director with more than 25 years as a police officer in Rochester, NY.

In rhetorical fashion D’Amico asked her class participants about when they took their oath of office. Yes, they swore to uphold local and state laws, but she quickly pointed out they also took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

As she navigated talking through qualified immunity and “42 U.S. Code § 1983 – Civil action for deprivation of rights,” D’Amico pointed out a key phrase; “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.”

“You can’t train for a lawsuit after a critical incident,” D’Amico says. She encouraged all to incorporate Constitutional law into training. When facing a lawsuit, the court’s determination of whether an officer has qualified immunity during a civil action may likely hinge on if the officer deprived someone of any Constitutional rights and the concept of “previously established law.”

She cautioned the trainers in the use of the term “officer safety.”

“Officer safety is not a term to put on a report to describe the reason why you did something,” she said.

Her point was that you need specific articulation that describes the threat to the safety of the officer, or others, that necessitated your action.

Author

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

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William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

View Bio
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