HAMLET — Room-clearing and shoot-and-move drills aren’t Richmond Community College’s typical course fare, but it’s a different story when police and sheriff’s tactical teams come to campus.
Rockingham, Hamlet, Laurinburg and Southern Pines police and Richmond County sheriff’s deputies took part in a four-day advanced special weapons and tactics course at the college last week.
“This training is invaluable to our officers,” said Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly. “It’s really the only way they can stay up-to-date on the most current SWAT tactics.”
Tactical officers learned new techniques, teamwork and skills with Alvin A. Boone of Specialized Realistic Training. After an initial classroom session on Tuesday, the officers cleared rooms at the former Glenwood Rest Home in Rockingham and at Oak Grove Technologies in Hoffman and shot at the Hamlet Police Department range.
A.A. Boone is among the most sought-after police tactical trainers in the country. His demand is not due to his soft touch with his students.
“You guys have got to get used to rolling hard!” Boone bellowed at a group of shield-wielding “bunker men” at the Hamlet Police Department range Thursday afternoon, when temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees. Boone felt the officers took fractions of a second too long reloading their weapons between drills.
“This training is intense and demanding,” said Boone. “It is designed to train officers how to fight, how to stay in a fight and how to win a fight.
“These places where these tactics, skills and instincts are going to be used in the real world are not nice and pretty,” Boone continued. “You gotta want to come home when you get in these situations and go in these places. This training will help you do that.”
“My biggest takeaway from everything that we have been doing here this week is safety,” said Laurinburg Police Officer Sal Marcano. “The focus has been on doing the little things right and relying on your team members so that everyone can do their jobs safely.”
Boone said teamwork is central to the training components he teaches. Each agency’s members worked either as a two-, three- or six-man unit for the drills that Boone ran them through over the four days.
“These types of tactics require precise movements that are coordinated with other members of your team,” said Laurinburg police Officer Larry Bowman. “With this training, we are learning to move comfortably with our team.”
Beyond that, there is a benefit to training with officers from other jurisdictions, according to Detective Keith Mabe of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
“There could be situations in which we will have to call upon any of these other agencies to assist,” Mabe said. “Speaking a common language and being trained in the same tactics, the same way, is very beneficial and gives us all a tactical advantage in a situation where we have to work together.”
“Our SWAT team training with other agencies both inside and out of the county gives our tactical officers the chance to work along side and become familiar with their officers and vice-versa,” said Kelly. “It also gives them a chance to share knowledge about different tactical solutions.”
In addition to gaining familiarity with other law enforcement agencies, officers said the training they received at Richmond Community College has other advantages.
“Training through RCC allows me to send more officers to one training event than if they had to travel to a training event out of the county,” said Kelly. “The college can also attract a broader range of expertise for our officers.”
“Having a partner like RCC to offer this training is invaluable,” said Mabe. “We do most of our training internally and bringing in someone like A. A. Boone allows us to up the quality of the training that is available to our officers.
“This type of training is what is going to keep our officers alive.”
Andy Cagle is director of communications and marketing at Richmond Community College.