Fort Riley, Kansas



Police join forces, train to save lives in critical situations

By Season Osterfeld | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | July 11, 2017

     Officers lined up and forced their way into a house, a few moments later, shouts could be heard echoing from the building and shots from weapons followed, sounding similar to fireworks popping. A police working dog positioned outside began to whimper and whine, pulling at the leash his handler held, eager to get inside the house.

     The Fort Riley Police Department Special Reaction Team, Kansas Highway Patrol, and a few officers from neighboring Kansas law enforcement organizations such as Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office and St. Mary’s Police Department came together June 27 for three days of live-fire joint training at the Fort Riley Range Shoot House.

     The departments worked on small-team clearing tactics and close-quarters combat for situations that would require the FRPD SRT or Special Weapons and Tactics teams to be activated, like in hostage or active shooter situations.

     “We have a really good working relationship with the MPs (military police) on post and they have allowed us to come out and use the live-fire shoot house on this facility, which we don’t have at our facility and do some joint training with them in case we ever have to help them or they can help us,” said Christopher Bowling, tactical commander, Kansas Highway Patrol.

     Joint training for the police departments lets them learn from one another’s tactics and experiences, showing each officer different methods and approaches to situations they otherwise may not have considered, said Lt. Brett Payne, watch commander, FRPD.

     “In this particular line of work with SRT and SWAT tactics, things like that, there’s a million different ways you can do things,” Payne said. “It depends on the mission. It depends on the subject. It depends on the timeline you have, so bringing in outside people is always nice because you get to see how they do things. Sometimes they have good ideas and sometimes their ideas don’t work for what we do on post. The same goes for them. They get to see the ways that we do things.”

     Lt. Patrick Felice, watch commander and SRT commander, FRPD, said he and the other SRT members picked up weapon manipulation and breach-and-hold tactics from the other officers that will be useful in future situations.

     “We learn different tactics … they give a vast amount of experience to us based off their ops tempo,” he said. “They run a lot more live situations than we do. Sharing knowledge and gaining tactics is the main purpose.”

     Although it is very unlikely for a serious enough incident to occur at Fort Riley that an outside police force would need to be called in, it’s still important for them to be prepared should such a situation ever occur, Payne said.

     For the civilian police departments, Bowling said similar, adding there are a few situations he could think of that assistance could be needed.

     “Everybody can’t do everything themselves, so the more interaction we have with other good teams like this, we can bring them in for larger operations or relief operations, if need be, such as things like hostage rescue or active shooter,” he said.

     The Kansas Highway Patrol has been training with FRPD for more than 12 years, Bowling said, and it’s a relationship they plan to continue. Bowling and Felice said they have already started planning joint sniper training for later this year.

     “Since we’ve reengaged with KHP, we plan to have them back out again in the fall,” Felice said.