Fort McCoy News February 27, 2015

Law-enforcement students build skills at CACTF

Public Affairs Staff

Students from the Western Technical College Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement Academy held law-enforcement training exercises Feb. 13 at Fort McCoy's Combined Arms Collective Training Facility.

photo 1 CACTF
Western Technical College students Mark Benson and Jason Zylstra participate in a law-enforcement training scenario with support from instructor Brian Puent. The Feb. 13 exercise was held at Fort McCoy's Combined Arms Collective Training Facility.

While training in single-digit temperatures with a below-zero wind chill, the 24 students practiced clearing buildings; communication; and related law-enforcement tactics, techniques, and procedures.

"These essentially were team-building exercises to get students more familiar with subjects they've learned in class," said Western Law Enforcement Instructor Brian Puent. "These students are really new to the academy, so it was good to come here and hold their first portion of field training."

The Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement Academy, located in Sparta, prepares candidates for entry-level law-enforcement positions in the state of Wisconsin, according to the college.

The program is provided for sworn law-enforcement personnel and civilian personnel to meet the pre-service training requirements identified by state law and Wisconsin's Department of Justice Training and Standards Bureau.

The students used two buildings in the CACTF complex on South Post for the training exercises.

Teams of four people each were timed by instructors as they progressed through various scenarios.

"We like to add a little competition into the training," Puent said.

"By competing between teams, it adds a little stress but also helps them learn."

Student Jason Zylstra, a native of Huntsville, Ark., said the team exercises were helpful. "One thing you learn right away is communication is a key factor to be successful," he said.

photo 2 CACTF
Instructor Brian Puent provides feedback to students after a training scenario.

For Kayla Sieg, a student from Buffalo City, Wis., the first two months in the academy were an "eye-opener," and the training at the CACTF was a perfect start to field training.

"So far I love it," Sieg said. "I never knew there was so much to know as a law-enforcement officer. I'm learning the fundamentals, and I learned (after training at Fort McCoy) that being positive can impact a situation tremendously."

Training at Fort McCoy was not new to Mark Benson, a student from Mauston, Wis., and a former Soldier with the Wisconsin National Guard.

"It's great that we can come over (to Fort McCoy) to train," Benson said. "Besides being conveniently nearby to the academy in Sparta, it also has great facilities like (the CACTF) for us to use."

The current class of students began the 14-week training program in January. Puent said students likely will return to train at the CACTF.

"Having the ability to use the CACTF is a huge help for us," Puent said. "When we come here next in April, we'll have our scenario testing that students have to pass to be able to graduate from the program."

Built in late 2012, the CACTF provides a wide variety of training environments. In addition to primarily supporting military units from all branches of service, the CACTF also supports numerous state and federal agencies, such as the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy and the FBI, and educational institutions such as Western Technical College, when the facility is available.

For more information about the CACTF, call 608-388-1257.

For more information about the Western's Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement Academy, go online to