(La Porte, IN) - Police officers with semi-automatic weapons shouted “get your hands up.” They also responded to reports of fellow officers being shot.
All of the activity occurring Tuesday inside vacant homes was strictly for training by members of the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit from the Michigan City Police Department and the Emergency Response Team at the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office.
For about four hours, officers in full response gear practiced carrying out drug raids and other high-risk situations at four empty dwellings on State Street, Park Street, and John Street in La Porte.
More than a dozen officers discussed strategy before marching inside to sharpen their skills. Their mission, as in real life, was making apprehensions without anyone getting hurt and reacting properly when there was an injury.
The military like weapons were not loaded. “It’s as realistic as we can make it in a training scenario without actually having live fire,” said Corp. Mike King, a SWAT training coordinator for Michigan City Police.
The joint practice sessions are held twice a month with sites rotating between Michigan City and La Porte. Michigan City Police Corp. Nick Krause said drills include officers locating suspects wanted for major felonies hiding inside a residence, reacting to someone with a gun and freeing hostages. “We do every circumstance you can possibly come up with,” he said.
Krause said SWAT members respond to actual situations roughly a dozen or more times a year and rehearsals help with whatever they might encounter next in real life. “You just never know what you’re going to walk into in a house,” he said.
No doors were forced open as they are sometimes in drug raids. Officers were also careful not to disrupt or damage anything on the inside. The owner of the properties gave permission for the training before allowing new tenants to move in.
King said the conditions were still excellent for practicing strategies designed for the safety of everyone involved when it truly counts. ”We want to get in and get out as quick as possible,” he said.