Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Many public school students go on field trips, but not all field trips include shooting simulators and K-9 law enforcement dogs. McDowell County students had the opportunity Tuesday to see what goes into training police officers at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Thirty seniors and juniors in Riverview High School’s Law and Public Safety Program went to the academy at Institute in Kanawha County to see the facilities and classes it has to offer, said teacher George Kennedy.
Grant money from the Gear Up program, which encourages interest in college, allowed students at McDowell County’s career and technology center to travel up to Institute in a chartered bus, Kennedy said by phone as the class headed back to McDowell County.
Students heard more about one aspect of modern law enforcement often featured on television: The art of forensic science.
“We had scientists and chemists from the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab come up and give a demonstration,” Kennedy said.
Students then witnessed exercises with dogs that do a lot to combat controlled substances, apprehend suspects and locate missing persons.
“We had officers, the K-9 officers, and they spoke with the students and actually let them see some of the dogs and demonstrate them,” Kennedy recalled. “They showed the students how the dogs detect drugs and how they train them.”
One dog showed the students how K-9s catch suspects by tackling a person wearing a “bite suit,” he said. Another piece of training equipment took the visitors into a world many of them are very familiar with, the world of video games.
“Another cool thing they have at the State Police Academy is a virtual training simulator. It’s actually like a huge video game, and the students can step inside it,” Kennedy explained.
Once inside the simulator, students get to experience scenarios officers could face out in the field. They face placed in “shoot or don’t shoot” situations, Kennedy said.
“They had a blast with it,” he added. Plans now call for making the field trip an annual event.
Brittany Blevins, 16, was especially impressed with the training simulator because of the real life situations if offered.
“The way they train the dogs is really good,” she said. “We saw them do a take down; one was a German Shepherd and the other one was a Dutch dog.”
One idea Blevins gained Tuesday was an idea for a career.
“I’m probably going to join the state police,” she said. “It’s just a great field to go into.”
Josh Click, 17, didn’t use the simulator Tuesday because he had tried it already while visiting the junior trooper academy.
“I do want to go into the state police,” he said. “I feel like it would be a great opportunity to give back to the community and the state. I just want to help people.”