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Members of the Mercer County Sheriff Department and Princeton Police Department spent the day Tuesday training under the instruction of Dave ‘Boon’ Benton at the Gardner Center off Interstate 77.

PRINCETON — Well armed and wearing protective vests, deputies and police officers cautiously went down the hallway and prepared to enter an office. The action Tuesday wasn’t an emergency, but it was the training members of law enforcement need when the public must be protected.

Members of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and Princeton Police Department came to the Gardner Center off Interstate 77 for training under Dave “Boon” Benton, one of the founders of Benton was a member of the CIA annex security team that responded on Sept. 12, 2012 when terrorists attacked the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Benton and Chief Deputy A.P. Christian of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department came to the former forestry center’s lobby while the officers got ready for another exercise. The lessons included skills such as advanced SWAT training.

“That entails extreme hostage rescue, search warrants, drug warrants, things like that,” Benton said. “They (local police) are able to get it, but it’s few and far between. They’ve been doing excellent. So far, we’ve talked about use of deadly force, we’ve talked about room entry: one man, two man, three man, four man.”

The lessons lasted for eight hours, and it was not a matter of simply sitting in a classroom and listening to Benton. Using the Gardner center’s rooms and hallways, the deputies and officers put what they were learning into practice. Some of the officers had such training in the past, but they were working to keep their skills at a strong level.

“This is actually an advanced refresher course for this team,” Benton said. “This is the third time we’ve trained with this team.”

Benton said the participants at Tuesday’s classes had retained their previous lessons.

“Very well,” he added. “They’ve definitely improved. It improves officer safety, and it also improves community safety. Now they’re prepared, they’re better trained where they can execute their duties with less force, not more force.”

The lessons participants received Tuesday helps get them ready for emergencies in the county, Christian stated.

“It’s specialized training for our special response teams. Hopefully, we never need them; but if we do need them, we want to be well prepared,” he said. “Our theory is if you want to be a brain surgeon, you don’t get taught from a guy who’s just read books. You want to be taught by a guy who’s actually been in it, and Dave has actually been in it. He knows what he’s doing. We put a lot of faith in his training. So far, from the guys it’s nothing but high marks about Dave’s teaching techniques.”

Contact Greg Jordan at

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