From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 34 - November 15, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Tactical Enforcement: Special Training For The Worst-Case Scenarios

by Janet Montgomery

Milwaukee trainers put local officers in the same scenarios as Wisconsin law enforcement in preparation for any situation.

Heaven forbid it happens, but should it ... Sublette County will be prepared. The scenarios include clearing a room or executing chemical munitions, dealing with an active shooter or a hostage situation or a search warrant execution that goes wrong. “It’s becoming an all-too-common occurrence,” said Detective Brian Ketterhagen of the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) who also holds the title of commander of the Sublette County Tactical Team (SCTT). And last week, 10 local officers were in special training to get prepared.

“We hope and pray it never happens,” Ketterhagen said. “The best precaution is to be prepared. Should somebody take somebody hostage ... Sublette County will have the training, equipment and the manpower to bring it to a resolution.”

The 10-man SCTT spent five days in training with expert instruction from the Milwaukee,Wis., Police Department. Training CoordinatorsWillWalsh and Jeff Kranz came to Pinedale at the request of Ketterhagen, a former coworker of the Wisconsin trainers.

“They are friends of mine,” Ketterhagen said.

After being placed in command of the SCTT in June, Ketterhagen said, “I’m kind of ratcheting it up a couple notches.” The Wisconsin trainers offer very specialized training.

“Unfortunately, the regular police officers don’t get (this training),” he said, “So you train specific people and spend the money to have the people to bring these incidents to a resolution.”

Of the resolution, Ketterhagen said, “Our goal is to be able to stop a threatening action of a suspect without injury to himself or us ... or to anyone.”

Ketterhagen brings several years of experience with him to the new command post having served as a sergeant on the same kind of unit in Milwaukee along with the two trainerswho came to Pinedale last week.

“The sheriff and undersheriff have been very support of me for this,” Ketterhagen said. “They understand the need for it. The two of themhave been very supportive.” Sheriff Bardy Bardin got the teamstarted in 1995 when just he and one other deputywere on it.Ketterhagen said nowas the sheriff, Bardin has been very supportive of the team.

“He understands the necessity of it,” Ketterhagen said.

While the Milwaukee trainers work with a unit that executes nearly 500 search warrants a year, only amere fraction of that is executed yearly in Sublette County. “But it’s increasing because of things going on in the community,” Ketterhagen said. Whether it’s 50 or 500 search warrants, the training is the same.

“I’m training these guys as if they were my coppers back in Milwaukee,” Kranz said.

“Other than the terrain that they work in, which is a lot different ... a search warrant isn’t any safer here than what is in Milwaukee. So I wouldn’t train them any different than I would train my officers back at home.”

In Milwaukee, the trainers have several teams to work with, from the Ballistic Shield Team to Counter Sniper Unit to Breaching Team.

Walsh said he fell into training as he found a love for it.

“I just found a love for it ... a love for what we’re doing,” he said. “I wanted to fully invest myself in what it means to be a SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) operator ... an operator on the team ... so you got to get education and you just find a passion for it.” The two have traveled all over the country to train and to get trained.

Kranz said one team that impressed him was in Nevada.

“Vegas was a pretty good team,” he said, with a lot of money, high speed and good tactics. “We learned a lot fromthose guys.” WhileWalsh said a team out of Kansas City made an impression on him. “(It was) just a solid group of guys,” he said of the teamthat teaches SWAT tactics.

“Everyone has something to contribute,” Walsh said, not just this one team but other officers and other teams.

“You pick it up anywhere,” Kranz said, adding, “It’s very forward thinking of this agency to bring people in from the outside to teach them.”

And Sublette County has made its own impression on the two as well.

“It’s beautiful out here,” Kranz said. “I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life.”

ForWalsh, “Seeing all the wildlife running around here ... I’ve never seen it so ... visible.”

What impresses them of the local 10-member SCTT is, “the attentiveness of these officers,”Walsh said.

“Most definitely,” Kranz added.

“This is a very dedicated group of officers that operate in this county,” Walsh said. “Just very professional.”

Kranz said with long hours and a lot of effort over the past week, “these guys have been just outstanding.”

“This training ...ties everything together,” Ketterhagen said, “And we’ll expose the team members ... to prepare them for anything that would happen in our community, we would be able to address it.”

The most challenging part of the five days of exercise is the mental part of it, Ketterhagen said.

“It’s so precise,” he said, adding that the operators are under an enormous amount of stress and they have to make decisions under that stress.

“Our goal always is to bring the person out in a safe manner and nobody gets hurt,” he said.

In a hostage situation, there are negotiators who go in and talk, and they have time. “In cases of an active shooter, you don’t have that kind of time,” Ketterhagen said. “You do whatever it takes to neutralize that subject.”

Ketterhagen said his kids go to the same school as the rest of the children in the community.

“I feel good knowing that we have this here,” he said. And if there ever were an active shooter in Sublette County, “we’re going to be ready to take immediate actions.”

Along with the training, the new unit has also acquired equipment as well, including a jump van, chemical munitions, shields, ballistic helmet, entry tools and uniforms.

As for weapons, “everybody has an assault rifle,” Ketterhagen said. “We have additional equipment on our assault rifles.”

But having the weapon doesn’t mean that anyone wants to use it. “Nobody on this team wants to shoot anybody,” Ketterhagen said. “You’d be more guilty by not having it ready ... It’s better to be prepared and have anything ready to address an active shooter than not have it at all.”

The training for the operators includes going in when you have to.

“We train (with the idea)... should you be at that school and there’s an act shooter there, you’re going in ... The community’s children, my children, your children ... are in that school. We’ve got the training, we’ve got the equipment ... Every second you wait outside, somebody’s child could get killed ... You’ve got to go in ... go into the school and address what you have to address.”

The nearly 40 hours of training in basic SWAT concepts last week tie in numerous possible situations for the team or individual operators to address.

“I would think that people want to know that Sublette County has the resources to deal with any situation,” Ketterhagen said. “It’s almost like a necessary evil.”

He said failure to be prepared for something can be the worst scenario.

“It costs money,” he said of the training, “but you need to be prepared and have the resource there.

“It’s something that has to be done in today’s society ... It’s for the community ... for the citizen’s ... for their safety.”

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