Fort McCoy News February 28, 2014

Fort McCoy-based academies team up for training

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Wisconsin State Patrol Academy (WSPA) cadets practiced techniques for field sobriety testing recently during a training session at the WSPA. Staff members from the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA) teamed up with the WSPA to complete the training.

"This training was a cooperative effort to assist our cadets with learning how to look for impairment, to include seeing if an individual may be under the influence of drugs or alchohol," said Sgt. Tony Green, program director for the WSPA. "We appreciate the support we receive from the NCO Academy because it is helpful for our cadets to receive the most-realistic training possible.

Photo for academies story
A volunteer from the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned
Officer Academy participates in a field sobriety training session with
a cadet from the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy.

Wisconsin State Patrol Academy photo

"Our training effort with the NCO Academy took place over two to three hours," Green said. "It was part of an overall training regimen for our cadets who had a 32-hour training block on field sobriety testing, and what to look for in people who may be under the influence of drugs and alcohol."

To prepare for the training, six legally-authorized volunteers from the NCOA went over to the WSPA where some consumed a controlled dose of alcohol and some did not. Then, state patrol cadets were tested on what they learned.

"With the controlled dose, the volunteers who consumed it only received a pre-measured amount of alcohol, based on their weight, which we know should achieve the desired effects for our training atmosphere," Green said. "At no time are any of the volunteers without supervision in this training. When they come over, everything is prearranged, none of them drove a vehicle, and we made sure they were watched from start to finish in a safe environment."

Green said some of the volunteers didn't consume any alcohol and the cadets didn't know who they were until after the training was complete.

"It's done that way so our cadets know more of what to look for when doing the field sobriety testing," Green said.

"Understanding how to do this correctly is extremely important for our cadets as they go through the course."

A standard field sobriety test involves a number of standardized test types, such as the one-leg stand, walk and turn, and horizontal gaze nystagmus. These tests give the officer clues as to the level of impairment.
Green added he's had some volunteers over the years tell him they were surprised at how little alcohol it takes to impair a

person's ability. "This experience can also be a valuable training lesson for our volunteers and can help them realize how much alcohol can affect a person's judgement."

Master Sgt. Gary Leamons, Operations NCO in charge for the NCOA who managed the support effort and care of the volunteers, said some volunteers told him they learned a lot from the experience.

"One of our folks who participated said during the early part of the test he didn't think he was impaired," Leamons said. "After the testing was done, he found out he would have been considered legally impaired. It was certainly a good learning experience for all involved."

Leamons said the academy staff was more than happy to help and demonstrates how the NCOA regularly offers support for other post organizations as well.

"By supporting training efforts like this, it demonstrates what NCOs are all about," Leamons said. "It shows we are a part of a community, and we support other units in addition to our own."

Leamons added the WSPA would return the favor if asked. "We all understand the importance of good training on both sides, and we know they would help us if we needed it," he said.

In the week following the field sobriety training, Green said cadets received another 36-hour training block on chemical test training. In this block, the cadets learned to use equipment such as the intoximeter, or a breathylyzer, which helps determine the degree of an individual's intoxication by means of a chemical test of the breath.

"Through the overall academy training, our cadets receive many, many hours of training in understanding how we determine if people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol," Green said. "As our cadets graduate and become officers, they will continue their training through their careers.

The WSPA, according to its website, provides "diverse training for State Patrol personnel, federal and local law enforcement officers, and state employees" in addition to supporting other training efforts. The current class of cadets graduates March 21, and the next class begins training July 13. Anyone interested in becoming a state patrol officer should visit the academy website at http://wspa.mrooms3.net or http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/about/hr/jobs/index.htm to find out more.

The NCOA provides professional development and leadership training to Soldiers through NCO Education System courses. The academy is one of 33 Armywide — four Reserve, 15 active duty and 14 National Guard. It falls under the command of the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center at Fort Knox, Ky.