Since the Roth’s grocery store closed in Keizer nearly three years ago, it hasn’t been unusual to see officers with the Keizer Police Department meet up in the parking lot.
Inside the former grocery store, though? That hasn’t happened much.
But that’s just what happened over a two-day period last week as all KPD officers went through some training scenarios in the vacant building.
Officers went through various scenarios and got immediate feedback, as well as the opportunity to explain what they saw.
“We’re putting officers through some drills,” Sgt. Bob Trump said as officer Dave Babcock started the training. “This is an on-duty cop. We pulled him off the road from his patrol. He’ll go back out when he’s done here.”
The first scenario involved hand-to-hand fighting, with Darsy Olafson doing the training and evaluation.
“It’s practicing defensive tactics,” said Olafson, who has been doing the training since 2004. “I can evaluate how well they’re picking it up.”
Trump then had officers go in the back and deal with a stubborn subject with a weapon, in this case played by Lt. Andrew Copeland. Babcock went through the scenario in a dark back room.
“He was not responding to my commands,” Babcock said while debriefing with Trump.
The scenario helped officers with a common issue.
“Handcuffs have to sometimes be put on in low light, high stress situations,” Copeland said. “That’s one of the top lawsuits police departments face, because you can cut off nerves.”
The next scenario was of an active shooter somewhere in the building. Babcock entered the building, with Copeland playing the role of a victim and shouting about the shooter. Under careful observation from Trump, Babcock followed the sounds and tracked down the suspect.
From his vantage point at the front of the building, Olafson could observe the approach each officer took.
“Yesterday the first six officers took six different approaches,” he said. “They all had tactical reasons for what they did. None of them were wrong. The first thing we look at is the hands, if they are out or if they are concealed. When you go in on scene, the first thing we clear is the hands. Some will stop (Copeland), while some will go by him.”
Copeland said officers did what they were trained to do.
“What we’re taught to do is go to the problem,” Copeland said. “Everybody has the same mission, going to the sound. If you lose the sound, you pause and listen. Over the last couple of years, the way we respond to an active shooter has changed. It used to be you’d wait outside for three other officers, so you go in as a pod.
“From shootings in schools and malls, studies show if first officers go in by themselves, they can prevent more casualties and they can direct other officers on where to go,” he added. “In the Reynolds High School shooting (in 2014), two school resource officers inserted themselves and prevented numerous kids from being hurt.”
Babcock described his thought process to Trump.
“It was an active shooter,” Babcock said. “I was slicing the pie. I heard shots back here.”
Trump said Babcock did a great job.
“We’re proud of Dave Babcock,” Trump said.
The last training had officers respond to a work setting with a disgruntled employee who had just been laid off.
John and Kecia Keller won a West Salem High School raffle and thus got to participate in the scenarios and also watch Babcock go through them.
“I thought it sounded interesting,” Kecia said, breaking into a grin. “It’s not the usual raffle to win.”
For John, participating was an eye opener.
“Just being in this building raises the stress level,” he said. “I’ve earned new respect for officers, totally. You could see how good (Babcock) was. He’s been trained. It’s second nature to him.”
While most officers went through the training and then returned to the streets, Olafson was among those who stayed at the old Roth’s for two days.
“It’s hard to not screw around after two straight 14-hour days,” he said. “Every officer goes through the same thing. It gets to be like Groundhog Day.”
Those staying in the building all day got breaks, but were not on regular calls. Still, old habits die hard for Olafson, Copeland, Trump and Jeff Goodman.
“On (March 3), they had a domestic situation at McNary Estates,” Olafson said. “We all helped out. On lunch break, we’d more rather go run after a bad guy than have lunch.”
Last week’s training is typically done twice a year, in addition to quarterly training for topics like shooting and CPR. This was the first time KPD has used the Roth’s building for this type of training.
McNary’s Knight of Arts was a success in almost every way imaginable.
The event, held Saturday, March 7, at McNary High School brought in about $35,000. Funds will be used to pay down the cost of the music programs’ latest CDs in addition to helping install a closed-circuit camera system in the school’s Ken Collins Auditorium.
The unexpected donation of high-end microphones from Uptown Music during the fundraiser will also go a long way to cutting costs on future CD projects.
“It means we can now fully produce all our own recordings of the groups for our yearly CDs and concert recordings,” said Leah Garro, McNary Fine Arts Boosters president.
All told, about 2,000 hours go into planning the event. Garro’s involvement with Knight of Arts goes back three years, but even she was stunned by the outpouring this year.
“Whether it was businesses stepping up to donate, people wanting to contribute funds, or parents volunteering to plan and work at the event, everyone was so willing to do what they could to help out. The end result was an amazing night,” she said. “I am also proud of the variety of ways these funds have benefited our programs. We have helped replace instruments for the band, paid entry fees for students to attend art shows, built a recording studio and a piano lab, and now we have a chance to outfit our theater with some high-end recording equipment.”
One result of all the work and contributions was adding classes in studio production and recording arts and engineering to the curriculum this year.
“These are real world opportunities for kids to learn skills that will take them well beyond high school,” Garro said.