Daleville DPS reopens upgraded gun range/training facility
BY Jan Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
“Take your weapon with you. Do not leave your weapon (after transitioning to a second firearm and moving). If a bad guy gets your weapon he will kill you,” yelled an instructor during opening training at the new law enforcement training facility and gun range owned by the Daleville Department of Public Safety Monday, Feb. 29.DDPS celebrated the reopening of its newly upgraded training facility/gun range on Monday, Feb. 22. This week dozens of police officers from numerous area law enforcement agencies filled the facility for the first Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission-approved Special Weapons and Tactics course to be held there.For the director of DDPS Harvey Mathis, it’s a shining moment for his department that he, along with many volunteers worked hard for. In addition to hosting SWAT schools and shooting competitions for law enforcement agencies, Mathis plans to offer training for civilians. A class for women is already in the planning stages.“It is our training facility that we can hold our department’s semi-annual training sessions. Fort Rucker can use it. Our SWAT team uses it for training,” said Mathis. “We started (refurbishing and upgrading) back in November. The place had just gotten inundated with fallen trees, trash and the berm was coming down. We decided we wanted to make this a place to be proud of, to have a respectable place where other departments can come for training and competitions.”The facility includes a new classroom building, new metal target stands, an obstacle course, doorways for learning the proper way to enter different types of buildings and rooms and more.“Part of it (the obstacle course) is you have to push a car, you have to climb a six-foot metal fence and wood fence, run a course, then drag a 165 pound dummy back across a balance beam and go through a two-foot by two-foot window. You have a minute and a half to do it,” Mathis explained, adding there is room at the site to add even more training areas.This week the law enforcement officers participating in the first week-long SWAT training course being conducted by Osage Training, Consulting and Combatives, LLC “will be working on their proficiency with their firearms—both long guns and handguns and transitions as well as tactical movements, building clearing, how to work as a team,” said Capt. William Mansfield with the Daleville PD. “They are going to refine those skills so it become second nature and they don’t have to think about what they are doing. What happens is each guy on a team knows exactly what the other is doing or going to do.”Osage provides services “from advanced firearms and tactical training to use of force consulting, expert witness testimony and case review, risk mitigation/civil suit prevention training, instruction in law enforcement patrol techniques, report writing and case preparation to the law enforcement, military and private communities,” according to the Osage website.Lee Buller has been a reserve officer with the DDPS for two years. He is going through the training this week. “They are emphacizing the stress factor and that plays a big role in the training. How we would normally do it without the stress would be different but with the added stress factor it makes you mind your p’s and q’s. Communication is a key with SWAT. If you don’t have communication, then the whole team falls apart. Communication is the key to success.” In his regular life Buller is a MI-17 (a Russian helicopter, similar to a UH-60 Black Hawk) crew chief who trains Afghan soldiers. He is also a crew chief for CH-47 Chinook helicopters.“We are happy and proud that we can be the sponsor of a SWAT school. We know that each one of these officers are going to walk away more tactically proficient. In today’s world where things are more precarious and dangerous, we need to make sure our officers are prepared,” said Mathis, adding most of Daleville’s officers are SWAT trained and he would like all of his officers to eventually go through SWAT school at the training facility.The new facility and range were made possible by multiple volunteers and companies in addition to Fort Rucker’s Special Response Team that “worked tirelessly” helping to get everything up to par and even donated a storage building, said Mansfield. Mathis said Mark Dunning Industries along with Southern Waste Disposal provided dumpsters; E and H Steel Corporation built multiple steel target holders; Jim Getto painted all the obstacles and the training building; and Donna Overstreet volunteered her time and bushhog to clear the field. The chief said without all of the help from volunteers and organizations, the renovation of the training facilities would not have been possible.There are 10 reserve officers, 17 full-time officers and two part-time officers in the Daleville Police Department. The public can use the training facility, but appointments have to be made with the police department. Mathis said more information will be forthcoming about public use.