August 04, 2010

Officer completes Homeland Security Training

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Lt. Kenneth W. Sneed of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Public Safety recently completed Homeland Security Training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

Sneed attended “Field Force Operations” July 19-21. Officers learned the group dynamics and history of protests and civil disorder that involve large groups of people. Officers were taught “how to mitigate the situation to minimize injuries and reduce property damage when possible,” Sneed said.

Training sessions cover a wide variety of topics for emergency responders. Sneed’s training will benefit SIUC and the police department by “training our officers to better understand crowd behavior during a protest or civil disturbance,” said Todd D. Sigler, director of the Department of Public Safety.

Sigler said that college campuses have a history of protests, crowd disturbances, and being active environments for social movement efforts. Most recently, college campuses have experienced student protests about the escalating costs of higher education, efforts to create green technology, and collective bargaining for graduate assistants and non-tenured positions, he said.

“We hope that we will never need to utilize the training, but officers who are exposed to this type of police knowledge can interact more effectively with crowd members and hopefully mitigate problems before they become out of control,” Sigler said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security completely funded the training in Anniston, Ala. The department’s Federal Emergency Management Agency operates the domestic preparedness center, and is the only federally chartered Weapons of Mass Destruction training facility in the United States, according to an agency news release.

Sneed said the training combined classroom lectures with hands-on role-playing exercises that simulate the kinds of behaviors found in civil actions or riots. The training gives officers “a better understanding of group dynamics and an overview of some of the tactics used against police or other intended targets …” he said.

Sneed is the only SIUC officer to receive the training at this point, but there are plans for a majority of SIUC police officers to attend future training sessions on a rotating basis when service demands permit, Sigler said.