Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Road to Reserves - Gang Team, Combat Mindset, & CPR

I am a helpful, friendly seeing eye dog. 

Of all the important lessons we learned in class this past week, this message is one that resonated for me.  More on that later.

Week two went smoothly and camaraderie is building among the class members. This camaraderie – the sense of gaining a second family – is one of my favorite aspects of working in law enforcement and corrections.

Class 4 - Interagency Gang Enforcement Team (IGET)

The Washington County Interagency Gang Enforcement Team (IGET) is composed of members from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), Beaverton Police Department (BPD), and Hillsboro Police Department.  These individuals work full-time to “provide law enforcement agencies in Washington County with information and analysis to help protect the public and suppress gang related criminal activity.”

Our class was presented with a great deal of information about gangs commonly encountered around Washington County. We learned about identifying features of gang members, such as clothing, colors, numbers, and tattoos. The team also shared details about local gang origins, history, and rivalries.

It is advantageous for us, as reserve candidates, to collect as much information and educate ourselves properly before engaging with unknown individuals out on the road or in the jail. Any insight we can derive about a suspect, for example, might be the key piece of information in an investigation or what helps to keep us safe.


You can read more about IGET and take a look at gang tattoo and graffiti photos on the WCSO website.

Class 5 – Mental Preparedness & Excited Delirium

Some of us in class may be stronger than others, while some may be better communicators or more apt to take risks.  Regardless of those differences, we have all been raised and socially conditioned to follow rules, be non-violent, and obey instruction. We are helpful, friendly seeing eye dogs.

Some of the most dangerous individuals we encounter may have been conditioned to violence, exposed to drug use from a young age, and raised in poverty. They hold different values and often use inappropriate means to solve problems. 

Those of us in law enforcement and corrections must be prepared to protect the community from this small segment of the population.  With the help of our community, we must fight against the most dangerous in order to return home safely to our families at the end of each day.

This academy will provide us the tools we need and our instructors are committed to helping us succeed.

A senior training officer from BPD detailed the steps we must take to prepare ourselves against those who pose a danger to us.  It is imperative we are familiar with the law, know how to implement it, and that we participate in extensive and ongoing training.  We were warned, “You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall to the level of your training.”  I assure you, we are all itching to get started with hands-on defensive tactics training in our third week.

For the second portion of class we learned about excited delirium, the controversial description of behavior which includes bizarre actions, incredible strength and endurance, insensitivity to pain, and an inability to follow commands.  If the subject is not safely restrained and provided timely medical assistance, he or she can suffer cardiac arrest and die. 

We examined the contributing factors to this event and talked about the symptoms we can keep an eye out for.  The ability to swiftly recognize excited delirium and recall that it is a medical emergency in need of treatment may allow us to save lives.

Class 6 – CPR, AED, First Aid, & Tactical Tourniquets

On Saturday, we met at the WCSO and it was nice to be back on “home turf.” It was also nice to see a group of grown men handling baby dolls in CPR class.

We covered performing CPR on adults, children, and infants, using an AED, addressing choking emergencies, and other scenarios requiring first aid.  Rolling our classmates into the recovery position seemed like a comfortable first step as we move toward combating with each other in our upcoming defensive tactics training.

Our last topic was how to apply tourniquets to ourselves and others in tactically complicated situations.  This might mean taking cover from gunfire to render aid or using one hand to apply a tourniquet to our opposite arm. 

We did test runs and tried cutting off the circulation in our extremities for practice.  We also got to see super gory photographs of penetrating wound trauma to assess whether a tourniquet would be useful.  Eating lunch after class with no problem was a solid accomplishment.


Two weeks down, nineteen to go!  The WCSO candidates had a bonus event on Monday – we were fitted for our duty belts, given most of our gear to take home, and our hands were fitted for our firearm. 

We learned how to order our myriad tools on our duty belt.  Those of you with a keen eye will note my belt is missing a TASER holster.  Since I have a smaller waist than my male counterparts, I will be issued a drop holster for my TASER, to be worn on my thigh, so it takes up less room on my belt.

The WCSO rangemaster brought a few handguns and determined what size best fit each of us.  We won’t be issued our respective firearms until we receive more training and get some time in on the range.

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