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The need to further expand training and focused preparation of federal and local law enforcement personnel has quickly become a part of everyday conversations.

Often, officers face judgment on decisions made at a moment’s notice, with a limited amount of training. In recent years, departments have identified the need for more training and have attempted to keep up with the demand, with restricted resources to fund the training needed.

More specifically, in Northwest Indiana, agencies have lacked available facilities designed to fit the multiple levels of training required to fulfill their duties. Police departments, much like fire departments, are often tasked with finding vacant homes, closed-out businesses and schools on break for training officers to schedule adequate training in areas ranging from basic patrol response to tactical entries.

This inefficient approach often leads to a loss of time spent on actual training, leading to a host of other training challenges.

To remedy this issue, we formed a committee of local, state and federal law enforcement officers in November 2018 at the Multi-Agency Academic Cooperative (MAAC) Foundation emergency services training campus in Valparaiso. The committee includes officers with specialties such as patrol, K9, SWAT, firearms, physical tactics, tactical medicine, active threat response and task force operations. Each of these specialties have different facility needs for their training, and the MAAC is stepping up to meet these demands.

Using the committee's combined ideas, we designed a new Law Enforcement Tactical Training Structure, and we believe it will be one of the most versatile and adaptive facilities law enforcement has ever had access to in our region.

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The design incorporates a steel building large enough to contain a two-story wood frame structure within it. The wood structure has multiple doorways interchangeable with “wall blanks” or “door blanks,” allowing multiple configurations of rooms and entry points. This also allows smaller segments for scenario-based training sessions to go on simultaneously.

To supplement the structure, we are looking at adding technology to our training that includes items such as programmable audio, controllable lighting and video recording. The lighting and audio will give instructors the ability to provide a realistic environment for their trainees. The video recording will give instructors the ability to use valuable instant feedback to critique and help improve on their trainees' tactics and movements.

The structure will provide for training such as tactical entries, breaching, tactical movements, hostage rescue, medical response, K9 searches, active threat response, domestic violence response, basic patrol tactics, building clearing, rappelling, traffic stops, disturbed persons response and much more. With the tactical training structure being built locally, this reduces the time officers spend traveling, allowing for more time on patrol and more hours participating in actual hands-on training.

The building of the Law Enforcement Tactical Training Structure is being driven by the McMillan Family Foundation with the help of other generous donors committed to getting first responders the training and equipment they need to succeed in their profession.

The MAAC Foundation would like to partner with others who might have the same drive and willingness to support our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as they move forward in training their personnel. If you would like more information on how you might help contribute to the new building or other projects going on at the MAAC campus, please visit www.maacfoundation.com for more information.

Steve McGraw is a Portage police officer. The opinions are the writer's.

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