A total of 27 officers from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan trained Wednesday with the Indiana SWAT Officers Association on Wednesday at Gary Airport.
GARY | Fourteen officers ran from the wing of the Bowing 737 aircraft through the plane’s emergency doors, sweeping through the narrow aisles, their firearms at the ready.
However this time, the officers were only training for a threat, and not actually facing one.
A total of 27 officers from 11 agencies in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois trained with the Indiana SWAT Officers Association on Wednesday at the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
The officers trained for a hostage rescue situation on an airplane, led by retired FBI SWAT team leader Chuck Smith. He said airplanes, trains and buses can be potential magnets for danger.
“Well, they are certainly targets for attack by terrorists or criminals, because it’s a large concentration of people that can be used as hostages or be victims, but it’s a difficult situation for police to handle,” Smith said.
Tony Emanuele, maritime enforcement specialist, organized the event for the Indiana SWAT Officers Association, which is a statewide training organization for officers and military members. On Thursday, they will be going into their second day of training for emergency situations on a South Shore train and a bus in Gary.
Smith guided the officers through entering the emergency doors on the planes, safely sweeping through the aircraft and taking down the person causing the threat. He said that being in such a confined space potentially packed with people is a big challenge for officers.
Joe Ferrantella, Ivy Tech coordinator of emergency response training in Valparaiso, took a group of students to be a part of the training. This was his sixth class he has had in the airplane at the Sage Popovich hanger.
The officers trained on an aircraft donated by the Sage Popovich Group for educational use.
“This plane is exclusive to being used for emergency response training,” Ferrantella said. “It makes for the most realistic experience possible.”
The students observed the training and played as passengers and potential threats on the aircraft.
“At first I was nervous, after sitting through it, it gets your adrenaline running,” said Megan Layton, an Ivy Tech Valparaiso freshman criminal justice major. “To watch them maneuver up and down the aisle, it’s cool how quick they all caught on.”
Illinois Metra Police and special operation officers Ruben Gomez and Danny Zapato said for them, training on actual vehicles are a big plus for them.
“We can never get enough training,” Zapato said. “It’s hands on, we are actually getting in there with our weapons. It’s the best training we can get. We can sit in class and watch videos all we want, but it’s not the same.”
These situations may not be common, but Smith said it’s important to be prepared.
“Even if it’s a rare or unlikely situation, the more exposure the better,” Smith said.
Emanuele, also a Chesterton police officer, said there are more events to come for the Indiana SWAT Officers Association, such as training in active shooter situations in a school.
Emanuele said officers and military members can pay a year’s membership of $10 and then attend training events like these at no cost.
“Honestly I think (the program) is going to get bigger,” Emanuele said. “A big problem for police training is the cost.”
- Source: http://www.nwitimes.com