News: Retired police officers teach marksmanship to CID agents
Story by Spc. Leon Cook
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - As the skies released their precipitous burden last week, CID agents braved the cold and wet conditions to prepare for a scenario even darker than the rain-blackened clouds overhead.
CID agents from all over the country traveled to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to learn from retired law-enforcement officers. Instructors from Vertis Inc., a specialized training services company, brought nearly 150 combined years of law-enforcement experience to the training as they prepared agents for an active-shooter incident.
Incidents such as Columbine High School in 1999, Fort Hood in 2009, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 are nightmares in our nation’s collective psyche. They are known as active-shooter incidents, and are characterized by one or two armed assailants seeking to inflict as much death and suffering as possible in a populated and confined area.
“Prior to Columbine, law enforcement was trained to set up a perimeter and wait on SWAT teams to respond, but in the period of time it took for SWAT to respond, people inside the building were dying,” said Greg Jordan, an instructor with Vertis and a retired police officer. “Since that time, there’s been a change in mindset and the first responding officers will enter the building and engage the threat. The faster we respond, the more lives we save.”
To combat the threat of an active shooter, agents brushed up on their rifle and pistol marksmanship, reviewing familiar firing positions such as the prone and kneeling positions, and learning new ones such as the seated position and the “paddy squat.” They also practiced rapidly transitioning from rifle to pistol, a useful skill if an agent’s primary weapon malfunctions.
“We all learned SPORTS in basic training,” Jordan said. “But if you’re engaging an assailant and you have a stoppage, why would you do all that when you have a perfectly good pistol at your side? Just switch to that and keep firing!”
After a long day of short-range marksmanship practice, CID agents spent the next day in a shoothouse putting what they had learned into context.
Teams of two agents entered the building and ran to the sound of the gunfire, moving past simulated wounded and fleeing people as they made their way to the shooter and engaged with “simunitions,” 9 mm cartridges firing a hard plastic projectile filled with soap.
“It’s not that often we get to set up a shoothouse like this, with an active shooter and sim rounds,” said Sgt. Brandon Green, a CID agent based in Fort Gordon, Ga. “When you actually have someone firing at you and you’re firing back, it sets up a much better scenario for training. It’s more realistic and you see how you react under fire and pressure and stress.”
“I think the training is very relevant to our situation,” said Cpt. Katie Crumby, commander of Fort Hood-based Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 11th MP Battalion (CID). “We’re all able to take away at least one or two teaching points from what this program delivers and add it to what we already know. You will leave this program a better shooter than when you began.”