Everybody Wins With Information Sharing
Police information sharing should not be limited to operational and investigative roles. Support units, such as training & education and use of force, have much to gain by sharing ideas, trends and innovations with colleagues.
I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Brian Crandell speak on improving LEO performance at the 2015 International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association conference in Wheelin, Illinois. He showed a unique training vehicle used by the Grand Rapids Police Department during his lecture.
The blue Ford Crown Vic was repurposed as a custom training vehicle that could be used for multiple purposes, including firearms training from inside the vehicle, exiting and moving to cover, etc. This innovative idea would lead to the success of a service-wide York Regional Police (YRP) Counter Ambush program.
Training vehicles are not a new idea but most trainers are not aware of their significant advantages, budget implications and how to begin such a project.
We adopted this training vehicle concept at a relatively low cost while engaging the community in a positive manner and positively impacting local youth.
A YRP Ford Explorer was written off after an injury free collision in 2015. With the support and assistance of supervisors and upper management, a proposal to build our own training vehicle was approved and we began searching for an outside agency to complete the needed work.
Implementing an idea utilized by the OPP years ago, we decided to ask for help from auto shop students. Our school resource officers suggested talking to an extraordinary teacher at Alexander Mackenzie High School in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
It was immediately apparent upon meeting with the teacher and school principal that this would become a wonderful partnership. The Explorer was towed to the school and handed over to the teacher and his students.
The vehicle had to be within certain specifications to fit into our training venue so we gave guidelines to the class, which first stripped off salvageable parts (engine, doors, wheels, headlights, etc.) that we could use. Students gave us a list of needed supplies most weeks, which we promptly purchased and dropped off.
The vehicle needed to be cut in half so members of our emergency response unit showed up with their gas-powered saw to help out. In a matter of minutes, the onceformidable vehicle was reduced to what appeared to be scrap metal.
The work done by the teachers and students was truly amazing. They worked very hard to complete this project on time and the results far exceeded our expectations. All glass was removed and sharp edging was dressed with custom coverings made by teachers and students in the wood shop. A custom high-grade aluminum frame was fabricated with locking caster wheels to allow the vehicle to be easily moved around our training venue. Everything was then painted, cleaned and turned back over to us one day before the deadline.
We often stopped by to check on progress during the months the students spent working on the vehicle. Great relationships were built with both staff and students through close involvement in the project, paired with mutual respect and support. I suspect the YRP provided pizza lunches also helped!
The training vehicle was towed back to the YRP Fleet Services building to be wired and fitted with interior cabin by our mechanics, who completely replicated the interior of an operational vehicle, including LED roof lights, a dummy computer and ticket printer, in-car camera, radio system and long-gun mounts.
A custom decal package was applied to the exterior along with Below 100 program logos and a special decal outlining the school’s generous efforts. The amazing work by all involved was truly realized when the vehicle was first plugged in and the roof lights activated.
The concept of state dependent learning is nothing new. The learner will have a more positive experience when training in a realistic environment where their brain does not have to imagine the surroundings.
This training vehicle has multiple uses and is as realistic as it can get. Not having a windshield or side windows allows learners and role players to conduct realistic forceon- force, scenario based training starting in the vehicle. It can also be used for live fire exercises and rifle/shotgun training.
A project resembling this one can be done for a few thousand dollars, including cost-recovery from salvageable parts. The biggest cost is labour so when a group of eager students gets the opportunity to work on a police vehicle as a school project, it’s a win-win for both sides.
The police save on labour-costs and a training vehicle while the school receives an exciting and interesting project. Another big benefit is the positive relationships that can be built with the community and the unique opportunity for police officer to engage with youth in an encouraging and positive manner.
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