Locally based law enforcement agencies participated in high-powered training sessions recently in an effort to enhance their ability to deal with emergencies.
Ketchikan Police Department served as host to 88 Tactical, a training company based in Omaha, Nebraska, for the training sessions involving KPD, the Alaska State Troopers and the U.S. Coast Guard.
KPD also arranged the First Line Supervision Training provided by the University of Tennessee. Officers with the Sitka Police Department, the Ketchikan Correctional Center and the Troopers participated, as well.
88 Tactical Training
A total of 32 members of law enforcement trained with 88 Tactical. KPD Deputy Chief Eric Mattson contacted the company.
"We've had a lot of new hires, and we've had officers here ... for over 20 years, it was just time to have a training that got everyone on the same page as far as tactics, how we approach houses, and how we deal with structures," said Mattson in an interview with the Daily News.
"So this model at 88 Tactical met our smaller department needs, and me being an instructor prior, I knew that the model would fit well here," said Mattson
Exercises took place at Ketchikan High School and a vacant house on Alaska Avenue. The training was not specific to an active shooter situation at a school.
Officers practiced safe weapons flow (how to properly maneuver around people while a weapon is out); evaluating as much of a room as possible before entering; high-threat, close quarter battle; conducting searches; moving through crowded situations; room clearing, which is emptying as much of a room from outside of the threshold as possible; and exercises in getting incapacitated officers out of a situation safely.
Officers also practiced scenarios with paint-pellet guns - sent into rooms with a specific "stimulation," such as an individual holding a knife, gun, or nothing.
"There's different responses that are appropriate for each of these ... where they're not over-penetrating into the room," Mattson said. "They give loud verbal commands. A lot of these are set up to where they have this tactical advantage and they're not necessarily shooting at the targets."
At the vacant house, officers practiced entering under different circumstances, such as an individual at the house is the subject of an arrest warrant.
"Again, a lot of these were, no force was required, no lethal force was required as long as the tactics were done correctly," Mattson said.
Because he attended the classes, Mattson renewed his instructor certification, which means he can teach this model to future KPD officers.
KPD spent $14,500 on the training with 88 Tactical.
"The feedback that I got was just that it built confidence in the officers that they can address, or feel the confidence to address, any situation that's going to be presented to them throughout their career," Mattson said. "So, hearing that was good, was beneficial, ... certainly to me and the chief.
The University of Tennessee First Line Supervision Training
The University of Tennessee approached Mattson before the COVID-19 pandemic as to whether KPD's officers would like to participate in the First Line Supervision Training.
The university received a U.S. Department of Justice COPS grant to pay for training in rural areas of the United States, he said.
About 13 KPD personnel participated.
Training included work in communication, leadership and emotional intelligence.
"It's called 'First Line Supervision' so 'first line' meaning that field training officer or that sergeant entry level supervisor that we have that's out on the road interacting with the community largely day-to-day," Mattson said.
Mattson said that he received "a lot of good feedback" from the officers who attended. Younger officers told him that the information provided will help them to self-evaluate and become better employees for KPD, he said.