Fort McCoy News Dec. 9, 2016

WSPA cadets build skills in defense, arrest tactics

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The Wisconsin State Patrol Academy (WSPA) at Fort McCoy trained its cadets in defense and arrest tactics (DAAT) as well as firearms familiarization and marksmanship.

The training took place from late November to early December during the cadets' ninth week of training. It is part of the second of three phases for the 44 WSPA cadets who started their training Oct. 2 and will finish April 7.

Cadets complete 1,064 hours of training over 26 weeks, said Sgt. John Heffernan, academy program director. "All of the phases are important," he said.

Wisconsin State Patrol Academy instructor Trooper Mike Larsen (standing) talks with cadets as they practice self-defense techniques while training at the academy Nov. 29 at Fort McCoy.
Wisconsin State Patrol Academy instructor Trooper Mike Larsen
(standing) talks with cadets as they practice self-defense techniques
while training at the academy Nov. 29 at Fort McCoy.

During the first phase, cadets received introductory training on becoming a trooper and in nonemergency response. Phase two is the emergency-response training phase, and phase three focuses on investigations.

"We (also) have added post-phase training where we teach things specific to the state patrol that are not necessarily required by the (Wisconsin Department of Justice) Training and Standards Bureau," Heffernan said. "Additionally, the patrol added hours of training in each phase to give extra instruction in areas of priority for the patrol, such as traffic crash, traffic law enforcement, and speed enforcement."

During the DAAT instruction, cadets learn tactics, techniques, and procedures on when and how to use physical force to control people. The techniques learned are psychomotor skills that involve use of both brain and muscle and are completed through practical application, said Inspector Dave Cahoon, master DAAT instructor.

"This training helps them to be able to defend themselves and others (if needed)," Cahoon said. "When they train in these techniques and tactics, it also gives them confidence."

Cahoon said confidence is critical for troopers in everything they do, and DAAT is just one set of skills being taught to build a well-trained trooper.

"The training is a building block for the scenario-based training to be completed later, Cahoon said. "And that training is critical because it is training under stress, which is very critical for us (as troopers).

"Anyone can operate in a nonstressful environment," Cahoon said. "Where we need to excel is being able to operate and be the calm in the storm during a stressful situation. We need to be the ones who bring that calm."

Being calm and cool also is important for cadets during firearms training, said Trooper Kris Perales, master firearms instructor for WSPA. The pistol the cadets trained with is a .40-caliber Glock 22.

A cadet participates in firearms training under the watchful eye of an instructor.
A cadet participates in firearms training under the watchful eye of
an instructor.

"We stress marksmanship and the fundamentals of shooting," Perales said. "They learn how to combat shoot, fix malfunctions on the weapon, how to use cover with the weapon, and how to shoot from barricades. They also learn how to shoot from the inside of a squad car, and essentially how to be combat-effective with the weapon."

Perales said the cadets become very familiar with the Glock pistol they use through multiple shooting scenarios.

For example, they learn how to shoot with one hand as well as clear weapon malfunctions with the same hand.

"What they learn could save their life one day," Perales said.

Cadet Ethan Rehberg from Neenah, Wis., said the training is great.

"I have been to another law-enforcement academy, and this is nothing like it. The material is similar, but the way it is (done) is in a completely different way. The training is more thorough, and we (cadets) gain necessary skills from the stress environment. This pistol training is very important, too," Rehberg said.

"It is one of the lesser-used skills in law enforcement, but it also is one of the most critical. We are putting a lot of time and effort into something we hope we don't ever need to use, but if we do need it, we need to be just as professional with our weapon as we are with our words."

Cadet Ryan Roth, from Iowa City, Iowa, said he applied to the current class thanks to a retired Wisconsin state trooper he knew while attending college. He said he hopes to make it through with all his fellow cadets where they will eventually be assigned to posts throughout the state.

"I want to come out of here as one of the best-trained officers in the state," Roth said. "It's a very long academy, and it is run very professionally. I believe that good training will provide you with good skills on the road. And I think there is good reason why troopers are the best-trained and best-prepared officers on the road."

The WSPA has been a tenant organization at Fort McCoy since 1955. Its complex covers more than 50 acres of the installation.
For more information about the WSPA, call 844-847-1234, option 4, or go online to https://wisconsindot.csod.com/default.aspx?c=wspa2.

For more information about Fort McCoy training opportunities, call the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Training Division at 608-388-5038.