Local deputies train for threats

Jan. 22, 2013 @ 11:03 PM

In one drill, Sgt. Aaron Meredith of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office was a homeless man looking for a warm place to sleep. In another, he’d just returned from a robbery strapped with two handguns, keeping Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies on their toes.

The deputies faced a variety of scenarios Tuesday through active shooter simulation training — a realistic style of law enforcement training — at the former Boone Trail Elementary School campus, facilitated by the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.

The deputies executed drills in various teams and formations in the abandoned elementary school, encountering different, but possible, situations with the help of Meredith as a suspect, said Harnett County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Jeffries. 

“It gets the blood pumping and the heart rate up,” he said. “It really ramps up where they can use deadly force while clearing the building.”

During the training, the officers receive little information on what they may encounter in the abandoned campus and use realistic guns loaded with paint bullets.

“The suspect has five different scenarios, and we leave it up to him about what he wants to do,” Jeffries said. “But we like it to be as real as possible, and we have about 15 deputies a day going through the training.”

Lee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Renea Seydel, who oversaw the training Tuesday, said she saw similar training in another county, which inspired the department to bring it to Lee County.

The Sheriff’s Office is constantly undergoing training, she said, and the department is always looking for up-to-date training methods.

“It is very good training and very realistic,” Seydel said. “It puts you in a real-life situation and as close as you can get without the threat of an officer losing his life.”

During a drill, two-men teams would clear an area of the school before finding Meredith sometimes sprawled on the ground or reaching for his gun, forcing officers to shoot at him.

The state requires at least 24 hours of training per year, but the Lee County Sheriff’s Office requires at least 40 hours per year, according to Training Coordinator Lt. David Prevatte.

“The training has been planned for some time,” he said. “We have to stay current on what’s going on and keep our deputies abreast of the new training that is available.”

So far the deputies have responded positively to the training, Prevatte said, and using the abandoned school gives officers a chance to respond in a realistic setting. During the summer, deputies will also undergo another shooter threat training, he said. 

Training will continue today and Thursday, Prevatte said.