Lubbock police focus on confidence building for upcoming graduating class

Standing on the edge of a platform about 30 feet high, the whirling sound of ropes feeding through loops interrupted chatter and laughter as one by one the future men and women of the Lubbock Police Department rappelled down to the ground during their training on Thursday.

 

Lubbock police Sgt. Kelley Pirkle stood by and assisted as the group strapped themselves in, and tried out a variety of techniques as they made their way to the surface.

“This is really just for them to have a little bit of fun and kind of break the monotony of the class and build their confidence,” he said.

The technique of choice seemed to be Aussie style as most of them hooked the line to the back of their waistbands and found themselves zipping toward the ground head first, with little to no hesitation.

After about 15 to 20 tries each, the group was comfortable and fluid in their movements.

With two days of training out at the LPD range winding down, the Class 2017 A was the first time rookies have participated in the confidence builder, said Pirkle.

Tactical training

On Aug. 25, the group of 15 will be graduating and heading out on the streets. Needing to be confident in themselves and their ability to perform in their new career, the group also trained in Vehicle Close Quarters Battle taught by LPD Officer John Willhelm.

About six LPD classes have gone through the tactical training, which Willhelm says is critical to their career as most of their time is spent in their patrol vehicles.

“We live out of our cars,” he said, “especially patrol officers, so we spend so much time here — it’s kind of our home. It’s the same as anyone else — (people) know how to protect their homes because they’re around it so much, now we need to learn this, too.”

The training is taught toward the end of the academy as it is not required but does count as state certified credit.

During the mandated Basic Peace Officer Certification, the potential officers undergo firearm training, as well as performing traffic stops.

During Willhelm’s course, the group was offered the opportunity to take that knowledge and apply it to real-world situations as they were presented with shoot and no-shoot scenarios.

With three cars provided by Lubbock Wrecker at no cost to the department, the group learned how to maneuver in and around the vehicles, given dry runs with a dummy gun before transitioning to live fire.

One-on-one training

Keeping a small group, Willhelm said each participant gets one-on-one training under his guidance.

“The majority of the scenarios that we have actually are no-shoot scenarios,” he said. “You just walk up, make contact with the citizen, write a citation, give a verbal warning, and that’s it — end of scenario. Then there’re a few scenarios that now and then we’ll have an ambush from an outside threat, we’ll have a person in a car attack an officer, or a gun fight starts, or maybe it’s somebody that’s a license holder that’s carrying open carry and steps out of the vehicle to talk to the officer. They’ve got to be able to communicate with them, and talk to them and make sure they stay safe.”

For Jacob Vaniman, the training was a good way for him to test his knowledge and skills, while learning how to improve in certain areas.

While he said the academy has been hard work, he said it gets better and more fun as they near graduation.

Since March 6, Vaniman has dedicated himself to the academy and said the Vehicle Close Quarters Battle allows him to wrap his mind around the everything they have learned.

“It’s fun to see the culmination of all the classes we take,” he said, “and how they apply to the street.”

 

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