WSULC Academy, Midwest Shooting Center Team Up

Cadet Jessica Clune enters a room during building search training at Midwest Shooting Center Saturday morning
Staff Writer

The scenario was set for 15 cadets from the Wright State University —  Lake Campus Police Academy. They were called to a house to conduct a search warrant and it was up to them how it unfolded once they walked through the door. Waiting inside the house were two “suspects” the cadets had to interact with and react to.

The scenario was made possible through a new partnership between the academy — formerly the Grand Lake Law Enforcement Academy — and the new Midwest Shooting Center. Inside the center’s Dynamic Training Facility is an intersection with four buildings set up specifically for cadets and current officers to practice situations they may encounter on the job.

“It’s realistic and that’s what we’re looking for in law enforcement training; putting the kids in real life situations and making them make decisions, right or wrong,” said Mark Ernst, commander of Wright State Lake Campus Police Academy. “Afterward, they’re critiqued on what they did well and what they can improve on.”

In the search warrant scenario, the cadets had to enter the building silently, surprise, control and apprehend two subjects. The catch was that the cadets didn’t know how the subjects would respond or if they were armed and a threat — as in real life.

“There’s nothing like training,” Midwest Training Manager Chris Miracle said. “You can sit in a classroom or talk to somebody about a scenario all day long but until you’ve been put in that scenario and had your stress elevated, there’s no way to simulate that and know what your physiological response will be.”

Miracle, a retired police officer himself, wanted to bring local law enforcement a controlled location to train and perfect their technique in a dynamic and ever-changing world. When Midwest was developing its services, he saw a way to give agencies a place where they could come and practice without having to worry about upsetting the public with a large, tactical police presence.

“This scene is set on an intersection and we can get cruisers in here, we can get personal vehicles in here, we can even get fire department vehicles in here if we need to train with the fire departments — which is also needed in today’s society — and we have the room and the ability to do it here,” he said. “This was built specifically for what we’re doing here today and we’re going to keep doing it as long as they want to come here.”

The Dynamic Training Facility, which is still having the finishing touches put on it, was an ideal location for Ernst to bring his cadets where — like their professional counterparts — the academy didn’t have to work around the university’s class schedule to train on building searches with their weapons. 

While the cadets were using real weapons, the ammunition consisted of non-lethal plastic bullets called Simunition.

Despite the risk of a stinging plastic bullet, cadets were excited to get the chance to put their classroom work to the test. Ernst noted that his cadets were “pumped” to get out of the classroom and get some hands-on training. Under the watchful eyes of Ernst, WSU-LC Police Officer Tyler Pottkotter and Auglaize County Sheriff Sgts. Justin Chisolm and Doug Burke, cadets ran several situations that were different for each student. 

Those differences helped create a sense of realism for the trainees.

To read the full story, grab Monday's print edition of The Evening Leader.