More than 200 Alabama State Troopers will complete training at FEMA's Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) early this year. Alabama's Department of Public Safety plans to send more than half of the state's Troopers through training over the next several weeks.
The state has already sent more than 100 through the fully funded training. The State Troopers are attending the Field Force Operations (FFO) course that is designed to provide law enforcement officers the knowledge to successfully employ crowd control measures during civil disorders.
"We trained for situations that can hopefully be resolved peacefully, first and foremost in a professional manner," said Trooper Chad Bright. "The training was excellent. I don't think it could have been any better. Our agency will benefit."
Each year Alabama's Troopers support three major events that could require crowd control. Two races at the Talladega Superspeedway and Mardi Gras, conducted in Montgomery and Mobile. Troopers throughout the state converge on each of these events and work together to maintain order and uphold Alabama's state laws.
"We need to be able to respond and come together as a single unit," said Bright. "This training provided us a solid base to work from and respond as a team."
"Any training that we receive to serve, assist the public and prevent disorder has a good purpose," said Trooper Steven McWaters. "We are more prepared if something does happen and the training here provided a real-life experience, allowing us to put our skills to use with real people acting as protesters."
This was the first timemany of the troopers had met each other-giving them all chance to receive identical training.
"This training was definitely needed for our Special Operation Troopers and our Tactical Team," said Sergeant David Steward, a supervisor with the Highway Patrol Headquarters staff in Montgomery. "We also included Troopers from the Driver's License Division who may fit into a response squad if any of the special operations teams are short manpower. These teams may be required to respond to an unlawful protest and having everyone receive the same training helps communication and an orderly response."
The training, provided by the CDP is designed for emergency response providers, emergency managers, and other government officials from state, local, and tribal governments. The FFO course arms front-line law enforcement officers with the knowledge to effectively manage large demonstrations, protect property and the safety of others.
"We are fortunate to have the CDP in our state, even though it is a national training facility," said Steward. "The funding also saved our state money that can be put to use in other critical areas. It has been a challenge to make the training happen because we're already shorthanded, but those who have attended say it exceeded their expectation. Other states need to check into the CDP."
Training at the CDP campus is federally funded. The students' training, lodging, travel and meals are provided at no cost to state, local, and tribal emergency response professionals or their agency, saving their state and municipality dollars. For more information on the CDP's specialized programs and courses, visit their web site at: http://cdp.dhs.gov.