Sandwich students learn law enforcement
By Master Sgt. Aaron Smith, 102nd Intelligence Wing
/ Published January 10, 2014
OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
A law enforcement trainee is responding to a domestic violence call. They walk up to the home's front door and knock firmly. Suddenly, the door swings open and they face frantic family members who pull them inside, point towards a bedroom door, and plead for the trainee to stop the attacker. The trainee approaches the door and hears muffled screams behind it. They pause and fidget as they contemplate pulling their weapon, but suddenly they burst into the room and are forced to make sudden life-and-death decisions.
Luckily, this is just a training scenario. The scenario changes with the trainees actions, but is simply projected on a screen. The weapons, although once real, are inert and now only simulate the feeling of firing with the help of compressed air. This is the Fire Arm Training Simulator (FATS) run by the 102nd Security Forces Squadron and the trainees are Sandwich High School students from a law enforcement class. The class is taught by Sandwich Police Department officers and today the students are receiving use-of-force training from the 102nd Security Forces Squadron.
Before running the twenty-seven Sandwich High students through the FATS training Master Sgt. Sean Dias, of the 102nd SFS, talks with them about laws regulating the use of force by law enforcement, historical examples that shaped these laws, and the various tools or techniques used by Security Forces. Some of those tools include riot-control shields, Tasers, and chemical sprays. "Having the students learn the laws prior to a scenario where force is needed, gives them a strong foundation and understanding. It gives them the opportunity to make a better choice," Sgt. Dias said.
The Sandwich High students are part of a growing list or groups that have come to the 102nd for additional law enforcement training. In the past The 102nd SFS has worked with the Sandwich Police Department and New Bedford Volk Tech. Since 2004 members of Sandwich's the Citizens Police Academy, ranging from 18 to 80 years old, have gone through similar training to gain a better understanding of the use-of-force. Master Sgt. Dias says, "Allowing local agencies, like police departments and schools, to utilize the training simulator and other base resources gives the group a better understanding of what police officers face day-to-day basis and creates a better relationship between the members of the community and local law enforcement."
Back in the FATS training room, students face their own scenario one-by-one. "The end result is a bit of an eye opener for them. The training allows the students to see how quickly the process, of choosing whether or not to use force, happens" Sgt. Dias noted. The reactions of these potential law enforcement officers are varied. Some students are overly aggressive, taking action when it's uncalled for; others are timid, not acting until it's too late. The majority are in-between these extremes, learning how to be assertive, respect citizens' rights, and become better officers overall.