News: Putting the Guard in Capital Guardians: The 276th MP Co. trains at Ft. Leavenworth
By Spc. Tyrone Williams
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Not many people would volunteer to be pepper sprayed. Yet soldier after soldier stepped up to be sprayed with Oleoresin Capsicum, a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary blindness. In order to be permitted to carry the spray, soldiers of the 276th Military Police Company, District of Columbia National Guard, had to be sprayed themselves. The soldiers endured an obstacle course of knee jabs and elbow jabs, defending themselves and subduing a prisoner before they were permitted to rinse the OC spray from their eyes.
The military police needed their certifications in order to work as corrections officers in storied United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Upon arrival to Kansas, the soldier’s first mission was to complete the last four days of their corrections officer training at the 705th Military Police Battalion Corrections Academy Course that began on Saturday, Aug. 4. The MP’s entered the prison to work shifts and receive on the job training Thursday, Aug. 8 with their stint in the prison ending Thursday, Aug. 16.
The MP’s preparation began in early June at the Regional Training Institute where the soldiers were taught by a mobile training team.
“This way allows for more work time as opposed to training,” said Sgt. First Class Kenneth Nichols, readiness NCO of the 267th Military Police Company referring to the allocation of the MP’s annual training time.
The training schedule varied in difficulty and was a mixture of classroom and hands on experience including frisk and search inspections and OC spray certification. The curriculum is created to prepare the soldiers for any situation they would be confronted with in the prison.
The training was very physical. During the unarmed self-defense portion, soldiers performed strikes and counter measures to learn to defend themselves. During the force cell move training, soldiers wore riot gear and were put in the scenario of subduing an unruly inmate in his cell.
“The training was good and effective, the instructors were knowledgeable, and they knew exactly what we needed to know to work in a prison,” said Sgt. Hector Lugo, team leader, 276th Military Police Company. It gave you confidence that you could do it,”
The soldiers also possessed different levels of experience.
“On the military side there is more discipline and regulation to policing a prison,” said Staff Sgt. Michael McCullough, a Platoon Sergeant in the 276th with over a decade of experience in corrections. “There’s more control, but when it’s all said and done its about survival.”
“It takes a certain type of attitude and demeanor to work in corrections,” Staff Sgt. Matthew Hicks, an instructor for the 705th Military Police Battalion.