BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Incoming Sheriff Mike Navarre is a strong advocate of training – and not just in the classroom.
“I believe that the police chief’s primary responsibility is to make sure that their officers are properly trained and equipped,” said Navarre, who will be sworn in as the county’s chief law enforcement officer on January 4.
While the state hasn’t mandated training beyond firearms qualifications, Navarre pointed out that many departments –including Maumee – require in-service training even though not reimbursed by the state.
“The Maumee Police Division continues the tradition of training our officers to be the very best in the area through a plethora of training opportunities,” said Chief David Tullis II. “Especially with the ever-evolving changes in policing and technology.”
About $50,000 of the annual MPD operation budget is devoted to training. In 2019, the department logged 8,472 hours in training for 42 officers. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, that has decreased in 2020; but by May, Tullis expects that every officer will have received their 40 hours of Critical Incident Training (CIT), which teaches how to communicate with and handle individuals having a mental crisis. MPD is also the host for CIT Training for all area departments.
Officers also received force-on-force training, which is practical training using Simunition gear and equipment. This training puts officers through real-life scenarios in which they interact with human actors. De-escalation drills were emphasized, Tullis said.
This year, MPD was also able to train using the MILO System. This system, which stands for Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives, provides over 800 realistic training scenarios. Some are stress-inducing and others are designed to build decision-making and de-escalation skills.
“It’s hard to put officers in a situation where it’s adrenaline-pumping and realistic. You don’t know how you’re going to react until it happens,” Tullis said.
Having instructors act as “bad guys,” the officers are given real-life scenarios and weapons carrying Simunition soap bullets with a goal of de-escalating the situation. For example, if a suspect pulls a knife on an officer and then drops the knife but is still approaching the officer, the right move is to transition to a less-than-lethal weapon, he said.
“All that’s under stress. If you don’t practice that, you don’t know how you will react,” Tullis said. “A lot of departments don’t put an emphasis on training. It’s expensive and you have to take someone off-road, but I’d rather pay now than pay later.”
MPD is now a satellite training center for OPOTA (Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy), and – when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted – will host several training opportunities at both the MPD and the training session.
“This will provide free training for our officers and bring business to our hotels and restaurants,” Tullis said.
When it comes to firearms qualifications, Maumee does more than the state minimum – including training with every weapon available to the officer and at low-level light. New laser systems and holsters were purchased for the division and transitional training was completed for proper use of the equipment.
“We know the importance of being proficient with the weapons that we carry, but to me, the most important training we receive is through decision making and de-escalation skills,” Tullis said.
One aspect that Tullis is proud of is the regular review of general orders and policies with the officers during their roll calls. Using Lexipol, the officers will become more proficient and gain an understanding of the laws as they change.
“Knowing policies helps our officers with decision-making,” Tullis said.
In addition to officer training, Tullis said he has also mandated that anyone promoted to sergeant or above must complete mandatory leadership training through the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. This includes Police Executive Leadership College (PELC) and Certified Law Enforcement Executive (CLEE) training.