This is only a test; KSP holds training exercise in Pleasureville

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

It was a scene that had Pleasureville residents buzzing.

Several marked and unmarked Kentucky State Police cruisers surrounded a house in Pleasureville two days in a row last week.

The silhouette of an armed officer, gun drawn, shaded the siding next to the back door. He entered the darkened kitchen cautiously, warily. A man lay motionless on the tiles. A  pistol lay next to the prone figure, and an empty 40 ounce beer bottle stood on the floor.

A neighbor who alerted dispatch to shots fired peered around at the body. “Oh, my God,” he said. The officer quickly ushered him away from the scene.

But, why was the officer’s weapon neon blue? Why was the helpful neighbor chatting up detectives near the evidence vehicle? Why was it business as usual in Pleasureville?

KSP Sgt. Vic Hubbuch said the whole thing was a carefully planned training exercise.

“We get guys on the road who don’t respond to enough critical incidents,” he said. “These exercises fine tune their skills.”

Detective Jason Brown played the role of the neighbor who made the initial call to dispatch. In the scenario he attempted to enter the house where the crime took place. The responding trooper prevented him from contaminating the scene.

“In the scenario, I heard two gunshots and saw what looks like a dead person in the house,” he said.

Besides practicing initial response techniques and procedures, participants learned or brushed up on evidence preservation and documentation. “This is good practice,” Brown said.

An evidence collection vehicle was on scene, but this was no TV show Crime Scene Investigation million-dollar Hummer. It was a converted SUV.

“Due to budgetary restraints, we improvised with an old canine unit,” Hubbuch said.

He pulled out drawers containing such items as evidence markers, kits for identifying blood, trace and fingerprint evidence, booties and gloves and alternative light sources.

Lt. Jeff Medley said running troopers and detectives through a realistic scenario helps the officers work as a team.

“They have to work together in a very cohesive manner,” he said. “The more you practice the more second nature it is.”

It all started with location.

Medley said a community contact helped find a vacant house in the area. Residents were not told in advance about the training so that participants could practice responding to curious neighbors who might contaminate evidence.

“You (troopers) can do this at the academy or at the post, but it doesn’t give the same feel,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a crime scene, you have to be practiced in helping neighbors understand. Officers have to be able to testify that the crime scene was undisturbed and intact.”

Following each run-through training supervisors interacted with and debriefed the participants.

“This is training to make us all better,” Hubbuch said. “We explain why to newer troopers and remind veterans. It keeps skills fresh and honed.”

Hubbuch said this kind of training is in addition to mandatory Police Officer Professional Standards training, and he hoped the post would offer more exercises like this in the future.

“We’re just like a sports team,” Medley said. “We’ve got to practice.”


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