"If they are going to make mistakes, we want them to make them here," Brenda Rante tells me. Brenda is the Program Coordinator for the National Preparedness Institute at Indian River State College. We are waiting for the final training exercises of the latest graduating class of police academy to start.
Becoming a volunteer for IRCSO has opened many doors for me, including being able to witness the exercises and take photographs so IRCSO and IRSC can promote the good work they do there.
I woke up early - it was still dark! - and met IRCSO Public Information Officer Eric Flowers at the Sheriff's Office to drive down for the experience. We arrived a little early and Eric walked me to one of the classrooms to observe a state-of-the-art surround-screen where students are thrown into realistic situations. They let me take some photos:
So now for the actual exercises. Keep in mind none of the candidates know the scenarios they are walking into, forcing them to respond as if the crimes were happening in real time, in real life. Here are some of the 'actors' just prior to starting at the briefing (Note: This slideshow has lots of photos. Be sure to view on a tablet or regular computer. The photos don't always all load onto phones, no matter how *smart* they think they are!):
Scene I: Squad A to respond - Illegal Drug Manufacturing at 'Bannerville' residence
Suspect(s) will enter residence to 'rob' the stash house. An altercation between the home owner and suspects will ensue. Suspect(s) will shoot homeowner and take a large quantity of drugs and money.
Dispatch LE to (Address in Mock Village) to a residence where neighbors have heard gunshot and fighting. LE will be dispatched to the residence and encounter a male who has been shot. The male will be the resident/owner of the home in question who has been conducting illegal manufacturing and distribution of a drug substance (Cocaine).
Neighbor(s) should state that they heard loud fighting coming from the residence, which was then followed by gunshots. In addition, they will identify an individual(s) existing the home and taking off in a vehicle (neighbor(s) should be able to at least say the color and type of vehicle). (Note: This slideshow has lots of photos. Be sure to view on a tablet or regular computer. The photos don't always all load onto phones, no matter how *smart* they think they are!):
Scene II: Squad B to respond - Drug deal gone bad
At an arranged meeting place (Skid Pad), suspect(s) who just committed the home invasion at the stash house will attempt to sell the drugs to a drug lord in the area. The drug deal will go bad, and an exchange of gun fire will ensue. Drug lord will be fatally shot, and suspect(s) will have non-life threatening gunshot wound. Suspect(s) will flee. (Note: This slideshow has lots of photos. Be sure to view on a tablet or regular computer. The photos don't always all load onto phones, no matter how *smart* they think they are!):
Scene III: Felony Stop - BOLO (be on the lookout) will be issued for Suspect’s vehicle based on neighbor’s description. Suspect(s) will be taken down during a felony stop, drugs, money and guns will be in vehicle.
I am an official, fully vetted volunteer with the Indian River County Sheriff's Office (Citizen's Academy, background checks, fingerprinted, etc.). Since my expertise is photo-journalism, producing these stories is one way I give back to my community.
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