On Tuesday May 17, 2016, the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR) had the opportunity to observe the first day of the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) new recruit survival training. The training was at Fort Snelling. It consisted of a variety of scenarios to test the skills the recruits learned during their training at the Minneapolis Police Academy.
Commander Troy Schoenberger, who is in charge of training, graciously escorted OPCR staff during their observation of a multitude of scenarios which included: a sexual assault; an individual threating to jump from the second story of a building; a physical fight in an office setting; a felony traffic stop; and an active shooter with an injured fellow officer. The scenario actors were veteran MPD officers. Following each exercise the veteran MPD officers and officer trainers, provided feedback to the recruits’ regarding their initial assessment of the scene; their choices whether or not to advance toward individuals they interacted with; use of force; ability to follow reporting protocol; partner communication; and radio use for back-up or emergency medical services.
A particularly interesting scenario focused on de-escalation. The scene opened with a woman standing over a baby with a knife. The recruits’ ordered her to drop the knife. She does, but at the same time she picks up the baby and refuses to hand the baby over to recruits. The baby has superficial cuts but is not seriously injured at this point, and the woman is no longer armed. The objective for the recruits is to talk to the woman, calm her down, and get her to hand over the baby peacefully. This goal was challenging for the recruits. Only one team completed the exercise correctly. Other teams started by talking to the woman, but then moved too quickly to use force when she did not immediately cooperate. Training officers used this as a teaching moment, by discussing the importance of taking time, assessing the situation, and charging or using force only when absolutely necessary. OPCR hopes this will be a concept that will be reinforced throughout the remainder of the recruits’ training.
Recruits that pass the four day survival training continue on to the six (6) month Field Training Officer Program, where recruits work one-on-one with officers in the field. Field Training is the final step in the officer selection process.
OPCR greatly appreciates the assistance of MPD staff in facilitating the office’s training observation and looks forward to similar opportunities in the future.