MOUNT VERNON — For the last two weeks, an empty building on the Siemens property has been utilized to train over 100 Knox County law enforcement officers.
The Mount Vernon Police Department normally conduct their departmental in-service training during September, but this year it was different after Corporal Rex Young reached out to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Scenario Training Equipment Progam (STEP).
The STEP program is a little like checking a book out of the library. Except they’re not books, CDs or DVDs but training pistols, marking cartridges, training tasers, protective gear, and role-playing props.
“They supply us with everything, including the paint rounds.” said Young. “All the marking guns they’re using, are very similar to the guns they carry on duty.”
With all this equipment on loan, MVPD brought in police departments from Fredericktown, Danville, Martinsburg, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Knox County Court/Probation Office and Mount Vernon Municipal Court Probation and even into Licking County.
“We actually extended the invitation to a lot of agencies throughout our county, and out to Utica as well. Eight different agencies came to train with us over the last two weeks. We trained just short of 100 officers in that two week period.” Young added.
The training was completed in 90-minute blocks across all shifts to allow the officers to train while minimizing costs to their departments. Chris Holt with Siemens allowed the use of a building on the backside of the property, where the training could take place in a safe and controlled environment.
The different scenarios ranged from encounters that could be resolved without force, encounters that require de-escalation and encounters that would require various levels of force. The guns did fire paintball-like bullets, but the paint in this case is mixed with a little soap, so it is easy to wash away.
Two of the training scenarios on display by the Mount Vernon Police Department detectives were an incident involving a man with a crowbar where the officer would deploy a taser. The second scenario involved a traffic stop that escalated into an exchange of gunfire. There were a total of 12 different scenarios, from active shooting incidents to de-escalation of tense domestic disputes.
Along with the catalog of scenarios presented by the Attorney General’s Office, Corporal Young authored some new scenarios that will become part of the training used throughout the state.
“I have to give props to Rex.” Detective J.T. DeChant said. “Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) put a catalog together of different scenarios for this program. Rex read through those, he actually authored some (scenarios), sent them on to the state to be approved.”
OPOTA, according to DeChant, turned around and asked if they could use the programs Corporal Young wrote.
“So forever will that be attached to Mount Vernon Police Department, Knox County, and Rex Young, that officers around the state are going to train in scenarios he wrote.” DeChant added.
The final training session was held Wednesday.