Beyond the Badge: Training is in full force for reserve officers across Northern Indiana

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. --- This week on Beyond the Badge, we have an inside look at the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Academy.

With 40 hours of basic training in the state of Indiana, whether you’re full-time or a reserve officer, you get your arrest powers. Some instructors say that’s not enough.

The Reserve Academy is in full force and they’re ramping up training for reserves across Northern Indiana, getting them ready for situations they could face on a regular basis.

"We're forcing them to do the things that they've been taught to save themselves," Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Training Sergeant Travis Shively said. 

Travis has been the Training Sergeant since September of 2019. He oversees training for about 120 people across different divisions. He’s one of several instructors putting on this year’s training for reserve officers all over Northern Indiana.

“A reserve officer basically is an officer that volunteers his time to the department, to the community for zero pay,” he said. “And they do all of the same things that your full-time officers do.”

“That's part of the reason that we run the reserve academy,” he said.  “It’s 208 hours this year, so from January through May, because otherwise reserve academy reserve officers get 40 hours they get their 40-hour pre-basic, which is just a literally a 40-hour course. And they're told they have arrest powers and they can go out and serve and protect. We don't believe that's enough. The full time Academy is 680 ish hours. So they're not getting a full even half of that. But we put them through real world scenarios based on stuff that they're going to see on a regular basis.”

“I like to train officers to the point that they're so confident in their abilities, that they're able to think longer,” Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sergeant James Marshall said.

James got his firearms instructor certification in 2012.

“My passion is to give my students the skills or abilities needed and if they ever find themselves in a gunfight or a position like that, that they're able to go home and they make the right decisions,” Marshall said. “As a firearms instructor, when I see a law enforcement involved shooting, that happens in places, I try and study it as much as I can, learn from it. Find out what the officer did right…find out what they did wrong, what we can learn from it, we can learn from every single one of them.”

Travis said you can only retain so much out of a few hours of basic training.

“And if we're going to have people that are gonna go out and put hands on people and take freedoms away, depending on the situation and whatnot, we can't just have them all willy nilly, so to speak, going out and well, I think this is how we did it,” Shively explained. “We want to get to the point where it becomes instinctual. They got 24 hours of defensive tactics just in the reserve Academy in January, and in the state of Indiana, you're only required two hours per year of defensive tactics training. Well, they got 12 years’ worth of training in just one month.”

Over the course of the academy, they cover all sorts of fundamentals.

“This is the first time that we're getting to see them shoot live rounds, working some drills, kind of learning the basics and burning those in for some of these new officers,” Shively said.

It’s all to get an idea of where these officers are at baseline.

“The Reserve Academy will train them up to the point where we're actually doing combat shoots and things like that around cars,” Shively said.

They also use a firearms training simulation machine.

“[It] gives us kind of a way we can get them to talk to the screen, deescalate situations, a choice of less lethal options versus lethal options,” he said. That's kind of the first time they've ever seen most of these officers have seen scenarios that we're putting them through. The other part of that part of that was just basic firearm drills. And then the other half of the class, which is where I was at most of the night, was building search for patrol officers.”

Travis said if they can get their heart rates up, make it feel realistic, they’ll be ready.

“When that time comes. They've seen it. They've already been there,” Shivley said. “It's no different than the first snow of the year. For that first-time driver when the snow hits, the ice hits, and all of a sudden, you know, the rear the rear of the car lets loose and now we're making big corrections. And we've never been there. We've never done it. We don't know what it feels like. We don't know where we're going. So that's the biggest thing pushing forward with stressful situations, is we force our guys to be in situations that hopefully they never have to encounter and that way if they do, they've seen it. If one person goes home because of something that we did and it saves them, it was it was worth it."

“Reserves volunteer their time to do the same job we do and they don't get paid for it," he said. "You don't do this job for the money. You don't do this job for the accolades because there are no pats on the back. So, we do it for the people and it's what we're called to do.”

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