SYLVA – Throughout his career of training law enforcement professionals, Mitch Boudrot has increasingly recognized the need for a realistic, simulated environment to prepare both current and aspiring officers for what they’ll one day face in the field.
While some larger institutions have constructed multi-million dollar indoor facilities to keep trainees out of the elements, Boudrot knew that was not financially possible in the case of Southwestern Community College.
Nor, in his view, would a heated and air-conditioned space be ideal for what needs to be accomplished.
“Law enforcement does not take place in ideal, comfortable conditions,” said Boudrot, the Law Enforcement Training Program Director for SCC’s Public Safety Training Center in Franklin. “When responding to a call, you’re slogging through the mud, snow, rain or oppressive heat. If our recruits and officers are going to remain effective and vigilant, they need to train in the same elements in which they will work on their worst day.”
The SCC-PSTC’s new Law Enforcement Operations Urban Terrain (LEOUT) accomplishes exactly that for Boudrot, and – more importantly – everyone who trains there. The course features 43 metal Conex (shipping) containers, which are laid out strategically near SCC’s driver-training range.
The facility also includes abandoned vehicles and gas pumps to simulate a small-town layout.
“We at SCC-PSTC are honored to serve those who serve,” said Curtis Dowdle, Dean of Public Safety Training for SCC. “We are thankful for the support we have from our SCC administration, county and state elected officials that invest in training and education for public safety. We are also grateful for the partnership and collaboration we have with all our public safety agencies at the municipal, county, state and federal levels. LEOUT allows us to provide practical, realistic training that will ultimately benefit the communities our first responders serve in.”
On Friday, March 24, SCC welcomed elected officials to tour the LEOUT facility and observe live training. State Representatives Karl Gillespie, who represents District 120, and Mike Clampitt of District 119, saw local law enforcement officers go through multiple scenarios.
“This is truly a one-of-a-kind facility that all of our communities can be proud of, and we all certainly benefit from the training that takes place here,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC’s President. “We are extremely thankful to Rep. Gillespie, whose district includes Macon County, for helping to secure the funding necessary to create LEOUT. We are grateful for all our elected officials, who support us throughout the year.”
Boudrot and LETP instructors are able to create a variety of scenarios from those involving criminal investigations and crime scene processing, traffic crash investigation, domestic violence, crowd management, active shooter and hostage situations, specialized & advanced tactical training, dignitary protection, patrol skills, and much more during academy sessions and in-service training provided to local law enforcement agencies. Plus, EMS and Fire-Rescue are able to cross-train within the facility.
“As a firearms instructor, I can say this new addition to SCC’s training resources will be an asset to our local law enforcement community,” said Tim Lominac, Town of Murphy Chief of Police. “The type of training that will be offered will assist multiple small agencies and departments to be trained and operate in a uniformed manner. In the unfortunate event of an active shooter, this type of training will put multiple agencies and departments operating as a team to secure a building (or buildings) and to neutralize the threat at hand.”
Southwestern’s National Park Service and Basic Law Enforcement Training recruits are already training there as are sworn officers in area sheriff’s and police departments.
Much like the officers who train there, the LEOUT will always be a work in progress.
“We will regularly change the layout of the LEOUT training venue, and we’ll add new elements and realistic details – from downtown storefronts, to fire hydrants and street signs – so that officers who’ve been here before will continue to be challenged by new experiences and situations,” Boudrot said. “The benefit to the officers, to the agencies they represent and the communities they serve, is moving away from a traditional, seat-based learning environment toward a new and rigorous situation where there are limited rules of engagement. LEOUT will take them out of their comfort zone and expose them to the elements they’ll be working in within a four-dimensional (spatial & temporal) environment, during practical training evolutions that are reality-based, utilizing contracted civilian role-players and our training cadre of instructors and evaluators.”
For more information about SCC’s Public Safety Training, visit www.SouthwesternCC.edu/PSTC, call 828.306.7041 or write to d_neal@SouthwesternCC.edu.
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