Area Police Agencies Undergo Extensive Training

Area Police Agencies Undergo Extensive Training
By: Lauren Keith

The methamphetamine problem continues to get worse throughout the Heartland, and that means area police officers have to learn new ways to fight the problem.

Sometimes police officers even act as haz-mat teams and sometimes they have to protect themselves like firefighters do from the flames that ignite when a meth lab explodes!  Now, officers from 20 area agencies are better prepared to handle these dangerous situations. On Thursday afternoon, they completed extensive training involving a simulated meth lab explosion.

"We were just in a hugely contaminated area let's get a move on it!" yells an officer trainer.

Othe officers waste no time breaking away from this simulated meth lab--- and checking on their partners just like they would if one officers goes down, either from chemical burns or even heat stroke in this very real-like situation.  "It's one of the biggest risks we face.  if one chemical touches another, it causes combustion of one type or another," claims Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Earl Jacquot.

This certainly isn't the first time Deputy Jacquot has been inside a working meth lab--- he's been on the job for the last 19 years, but he says, this training showed him all of the real risks he's "unknowingly" put himself in, before this.  "If we had gloves on we were lucky. We're been up against chemicals we weren't prepared for and this really helped open our eyes," said Deputy Jacquot.

Other law enforcement officers agree.  They also claim officers in smaller departments often have many jobs besides arresting criminals, when they arrive on scene.  "Normally, we call up a cleanup team, well in this regard, we're the cleanup team!" claims Bill Duncan with the Saline Co. Sheriff’s Dept.

The cleanup involves everything from clearing the chemicals to officers carefully cutting themselves out of uniform, to prevent further burns.

These police officers also admit they have a newfound respect for firefighters, especially after many of them traveled through this smoke-filled home.  "Basically, we’re following a hose, because you can't see and you have go along feeling. There are a few doorways that were low, watching for them.  It gets us used to what we can expect in a real environment,” said Deputy Jacquot.

And it's training they say they hope they don't have to use, but they know they more than likely will have to as the meth problems continues to grow.