FAIRMONT — Local law enforcement officers have joined forces for a three-day active shooter training focused on rural and suburban America.
The training started on Saturday and lasted until Monday. Saturday and Sunday were spent at Fairmont Senior High and Monday ended at the Marion County Courthouse. The goal was for officers to learn how to assess a high intensity active shooter situation with little recoil.
“It was great training because it allows multiple agencies to work together. We don’t have a lot of law enforcement officers in this county and if there was a major incident it would be very important to us. to pool our limited resources to work together,” said Randall Kocsis, manager of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The training was led by John Dapkins and Nick Klementowitcz of Jersey Tactical Corp. Both men are former SWAT officers who started a business making breaching tools. They host training. Dapkins said he sold products across the United States, and Klementowitcz said he spent the past three weeks traveling the country conducting trainings.
“My partner, John, and I were on the same SWAT team. We broke all the breach tools. So we had to develop something that we wouldn’t break. What happened was the companies had great customer service and would send replacement tools, but if we couldn’t save someone, it’s still a failed breach,” Klementowitcz said.
During the training, Dapkins and Klementowitcz explained that the difference between crime in rural or suburban America and in big cities is usually the number of officers and response times.
Officers practiced entering rooms in small formations with practice rifles and using tools made by Jersey Tactical Corp., including their shields and “the claw”, which is a door-opening tool .
“Most of the time in rural or suburban America, the reality is a one or two officer response depending on the scope of the territory and the size of the school and so many other things,” Dapkins said.
Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy John Billie shared similar sentiments.
“These instructors gave a realistic approach for rural areas. They do a lot of training to get two or three officers to react quickly and be able to get into an active shooter situation instead of, if you’re in a big city where you have 30 agents responding very quickly,” Billie said.
The training included officers from the Division of Natural Resources, Marion County Sheriff’s Department, City of Fairmont Police, White Hall Police, and State University Campus Police. Fairmont.
“The officers here this week have been phenomenal because a lot of them have taken time off. You can tell they’re motivated and you can tell they want to train. I can tell instantly when someone is interested or not and these guys are. They take their job seriously, they take their role seriously and they put themselves in a position where, God forbid, someone needs help, they’re going to be able to react quickly,” Klementowicz said.
Officers said one of the hardest parts was getting to grips with the new equipment, which added weight as they moved around. Billie mentioned a ballistic shield and “the claw”, adding extra weight he wasn’t used to moving around with.
The Marion County Commission provided $100,000 in funding to purchase equipment and training tools for real world emergency response. Items purchased include Rifle Armor, Bulletproof Shields, Ladders, and Bleed Kits for each school in Marion County.
Klementowicz said that as a training lieutenant and training sergeant, in his experience, there was never enough money spent on training officers for breaching and active fire.
“Now with the hybrid business that we have, we can offer both at a reasonable price, so it’s a one-stop-shop. We can provide the tools that are pretty much the best in the country – we’ve been told that. Then we can provide the training and since it’s a flat rate it’s more affordable than if you buy tools from someone else and have someone else come in for training,” Klementowicz said.