Nearly all the officers on the Ankeny Police Department are going back to college over the next two days for education they hope they never have to use. Lieutenant Ed Hamilton says officers will go through training to deal with shooting and hostage situations.
Hamilton says this two-day training consists of what are called “active shooter” situations, or people who have guns and are shooting at people. He says they’ve held such training in local school buildings in the past, but this training will take place in buildings on the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) campus in Ankeny.
Hamilton says officers will use special technology that allows them to shoot their own weapons with special bullets. Hamilton says they use plastic bullets that shoot a colored liquid soap material. He says the role players may or may not have a weapon that’s also equipped with the marking ammunition. The colored soap will allow them to see where the shots hit.
Hamilton says it’s a realistic way to provide officers some experience and training. “It’s literally a split second decision that the officers have to make,” Hamilton says, “and it’s also a very stressful situation.” He says they believe this training actually helps to inoculate officers from the stress and adrenaline they might feel in a live situation.
Ankeny officers provide emergency services to the DMAAC campus on the south side of the Des Moines suburb. Hamilton says departments across Iowa and the country use this type of training — and it’s something they need to do — even though they hope they will never use it.
“I think if you were to go into those communities where these types of shootings have taken place and you were to ask them ‘did they every think it would happen to them,’ they would answer the same as we would,” Hamilton says, “they would not have predicted that it would happen in their community.
Ankeny currently has a force of around 46 officers, and 36 will take part in the training in today and Wednesday.