KNOXVILLE — Law enforcement officers from central Iowa took part in a three-day multi-agency law enforcement training.
Law enforcement from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the Knoxville, Pella and Pleasantville police departments, as well as the Iowa State Patrol and various other surrounding areas, attended.
“For us, it’s great training inter-agency,” Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholdt said. “A lot of times it’ll be a Knoxville guy and a Pella guy and a deputy responding to this [type of call], so having that inter-agency cooperation is huge.”
“We don’t often get a chance for us all to train together,” Sandholdt continued. “This is one of those chances where we have all of those different agencies being able to.”
The training in Marion County last week is the only time ERASE training is offered in Iowa this year, Sandholdt said. Law enforcement officers made use of the Red Rock archery range on Highway 14 Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week.
The training is offered by the Texas State University. It’s called ERASE, an acronym for Exterior Response to Active Shooter Events. Essentially, it aims to train law enforcement officers on how to handle active shooter events that occur out in the opening.
Outdoor responses could mean active shooter situations in anything from a parking lot or in rural areas.
“It could be a Walmart parking lot, or it could be a wooded area,” Sandholdt said. “But it’s those rescue techniques that we’re going to use to help save the lives of both civilians and officers.”
For instance, one of the training events observed by the Journal-Express Friday involved a group of officers handling a scenario in which a report of shots fired at a vehicle was made. A suspect was in a wooded area.
The team of officers worked tactically in a fielded area to apprehend the suspect, that fired shots at officers over the course of the training event.
The training utilized the officers issued duty-weapons, but ammunition was swapped out with either blanks or simulated bullets.
Sandholdt said local law enforcement had already received training in a response method known as ALERRT, which is essentially handling active shooter situations in an indoor environment. Law enforcement are noticing, though, that a growing number of active shooter situations are occurring outdoors.
“We realize a lot of times that we have active shooters in the buildings or different places,” Sandholdt said. “But we’re having more and more that are on that rural setting or in the parking lot settings.”
A portion of the training was conducted in heavy rains last week. Marion County Emergency Management director Jeff Anderson said training for officers continued on the same regardless of the weather.
In addition to simulated, hands-on training, officers also sat through several hours of classroom training with instructors. The training was provided at no cost to the county, minus some miscellaneous costs such as food and water.