HAZARD – Some officers with the Hazard Police Department recently became the latest to receive specialized training in accident reconstruction and tactical techniques.
Officers James East and Paul Campbell on Thursday became certified accident reconstructionists following an intensive five-week course through the criminal justice training academy and the Kentucky State Police. Other than Chief Minor Allen, East and Campbell are now the only officers in the department certified to reconstruct auto accidents.
“If you’re going to be a full service law enforcement agency, you’ve got to have a reconstructionist in your department, somebody that’s especially trained in that,” Allen said.
The training East and Campbell received included a week of online courses before two additional weeks in September at the criminal justice training center in Richmond. The officers completed the final days of the course last week at the Kentucky State Police headquarters in Frankfort.
The class involved advanced mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and conversion arithmetic, but the end result, East noted, is ultimately a more professional and able department for the citizens of Hazard.
“When you roll up on a serious accident, whether it involves injury or death, now we have the ability to go and look at the roadway evidence, how the vehicle came into that accident, and how they exited the accident,” East explained, adding that their training will also allow them to determine whether the evidence matches what officers are being told at the scene.
Officers East and Campbell will also have the ability to testify as expert witnesses not only in criminal cases, but in civil cases as well. “With the majority of injury-producing accidents, there’s going to be some kind of civil litigation,” Allen said. “So we have to satisfy the courts of the legal system as far as the criminal end and the civil.”
Also undergoing special training last month were officers Adam Baker and Tim Feltner, though theirs was in advanced tactical techniques, such as those officers might employ in an active shooter situation.
Baker and Feltner went through training with the National Tactical Officers Association, and while every officer receives some tactical instruction during their initial training, Allen noted that theirs more advanced and is akin to a basic S.W.A.T. course.
“It taught them skills as far as entry and room clearing and control of the scene, different types of movement techniques for officers working in a tactical-type environment like that,” Allen explained.
Their training was physically demanding and also trained the officers in different weapon types, both lethal and non-lethal. Allen said with the local economy continuing sputter, he is concerned about an increase in crime and wants to ensure his officers are trained to handle a variety of situations.
“I’d rather have these types of skills at our disposal than not have them and need them” he said. “We would otherwise be dependent on other agencies, and the closest tactical team that we have is KSP out of Frankfort.”
The department has already obtained several different types of equipment such as ballistic shields through programs such as Army surplus, and Allen added that he expects to continue to send offices for further training as courses become available.
“That was one my main goals when I took over as chief,” Allen noted. “To try to facilitate some more advanced training for these guys, because we’ve always been an agency that’s taken care of everything in-house, and we want to continue that.”