West Side Training Day | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo by Deb Gau Members of the Brown, Lyon, Redwood and Renville Counties Emergency Response Unit handcuff a person during a training exercise at the former West Side Elementary in Marshall last week.

MARSHALL — It was a scene that looked very different from a typical school day at West Side Elementary.

Inside the old school office — now empty — a group of law enforcement officers from the Brown, Lyon, Redwood and Renville County Emergency Response Unit (BLRR ) gathered around a table with communication equipment.

A whiteboard in the room described a training scenario: a man playing the role of a suspect in a domestic violence incident was in one of the classrooms and he was not coming out.

The goal for the ERU members was to negotiate with the suspect and resolve the scenario peacefully, BLRR ERU Commander Jason Jacobson said.

“We never want to make things worse” said Jacobson.

The old West Side Elementary building in Marshall has been empty for weeks as it is prepared for possible demolition. But the empty building presented a unique opportunity for emergency responders in the area. Last week, law enforcement training was held at the school.

The West Side property’s new owners, Marshall Public Schools and local emergency responders worked together to organize training time at the vacant school building, said Cody Dyshaw, general manager of MAAC, Inc. MAAC prepared the building for demolition.

“We knew we had some time when we wouldn’t be in the building,” said Dyshaw.

So, they extended a time window for law enforcement training at the school.

The BLRR ERU conducted training exercises at the school on 7 October. The Marshall Fire Department also conducted training at the school this week.

Jacobson said the ERU is called in for high-risk law enforcement situations, including situations where a suspect has barricaded themselves in a building. The unit includes tactical responders, negotiators and medics.

“Every month, we train” said Jacobson.

Most of the time, the ERU trains on sites like abandoned farms, but a building like West Side offered a different set of possibilities, he said.

On October 7, the ERU members broke into small groups to do a few different training exercises around the school. A group started with the negotiation scenario. School office negotiators went over the script, while at the other end of the building a tactical team waited outside the room where “suspect” has been.

The team installed a phone connected to a negotiator and placed it outside the room.

“Can you see which door it is through?” an officer asked the actor inside the room.

Eventually, the ERU managed to convince the actor to come out and handcuffed him without incident.

As the negotiation exercise continued, another group of ERU members practiced breaking down the doors. Officers used a battering ram to force a crowbar-like tool into the door latch and open the door.

sergeant. Adam Connor of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office said the empty school building had good characteristics for law enforcement training. And because the building will be demolished, the training can become more physical.

The ERU trains in a variety of buildings, “But they don’t have doors that we can break down all the time,” he said. West Side also had solid wood doors and metal door frames, which the ERU doesn’t train with very often, Connor said.

Jacobson and Connor said the ERU was “very grateful” lucky to train in the old school.

“When these opportunities present themselves, we jump on them”, Connor said.

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