COUNTY, CITY LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINERS JOIN FORCES, BUILD OBSTACLE COURSE

COUNTY, CITY LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINERS JOIN FORCES, BUILD OBSTACLE COURSE

Up until 1998, recruits being trained for law enforcement jobs in Doña Ana County had to spend five days at a state-sanctioned obstacle course in Santa Fe at a cost of $75 per person per day, plus transportation.
But this year, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and the Las Cruces Police Department found a bare spot of land, put in $1,250 each and got volunteers to donate labor to built their own obstacle course that meets all state standards for law-enforcement training.
Sgt. Ken Gale of the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office said the new obstacle course already has paid for itself, as 12 recruits for the county and 16 from the city have been put through its paces, with more to come. Running those 29 recruits through the local course, he said, saved local taxpayers more than $8,000 in travel and per diem expenses.
Las Cruces Police Chief James Bonnell said his department graduated 16 cadets in June, with 16 more scheduled to graduate in December. Doña Ana County Sheriff James Robles said the Sheriff’s Department graduated 9 cadets in March, with 12 more scheduled to graduate in December. Both departments expect to put a new crop of cadets through a third class scheduled to begin in January of 1999.
Bonnell said the course “meets a critical need in our training program, and we welcome the opportunity to work closely with the Sheriff’s Department.”
Each recruit, Gale said, is required to perform two basic exercises within a limited time period before being certified as a police officer. Those two exercises are as follows: 1) Run 30 feet, then up and down two flights of stairs, then run 20 feet and climb a ramp, jump five feet to the ground, then run 10 feet and scale a six-foot concrete wall, then apply handcuffs to a machine that simulates a resisting adult; 2) Run 20 feet, jump over a four-foot-wide ditch, scale a three-foot chain-link fence, then push a full-size car 30 feet across a level dirt surface. Other non-required but useful exercises, such as climbing through viaducts and running an obstacle path also are possible at the location, he said.
The new obstacle course, Gale said, allows all area law-enforcement trainees to complete the obstacle course within the city limits. The course is located in an empty lot west of the K-Mart store on El Paso Road.
Robles said the land for the obstacle course is partly owned by the city and partly owned by a private individual who allowed the law enforcement academies use of the land. Robles noted that the parts of the course located on private land are not permanently installed, while the parts of the course located on city land have concrete foundations and are surrounded by barbed-wire-topped fencing.
Gale said the recruits and trainees have put the course to good use and agree that it provides meaningful physical challenges to the academy experience. And having the obstacle course in Las Cruces, Gale said, allows recruits and trainees to conduct the physical part of the academy under the same climate and altitude conditions as those under which they will eventually work.