Drill area, bigger gym are part of upgrade
Posted: December 12, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — City police have upped the ante on their fitness and training after collecting the final $30,000 of a three-year Department of Criminal Justice Services grant.
On Tuesday, Capt. Doug Watson gave a tour of the Winchester Police Department’s new gym. He also showed off its new defensive tactics training room and training equipment in what was the old gym.
He said that when Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher took over, one of his goals was to be one of the best police agencies in the country.
“It’s hard to accomplish that or have that expectation of your people without having proper equipment and facilities to help them get there,” Watson said, adding that the department is now well on its way to achieving that goal. “This is a pretty exciting time for us as an organization.”
The upgrades are the culmination of three $30,000 grants from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program through the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
Workout equipment was moved from the old gym to the new gym in a different building.
The old gym was transformed into a padded space, ideal for training practices.
The floor in the new gym is covered by high-caliber matting, used in the training of mixed martial artists, law enforcement agencies and everything in between, Watson said.
“This matting is about as good in quality as you’ll find out there right now, and what that means for us is that we can do more realistic and better training,” he added.
The department also acquired a RedMan protective suit that allows officers to realistically simulate situations they may encounter in the field. Other RedMan gear was also purchased to be used for more interactive exercises requiring less protection.
Sanzenbacher pointed out that while physical contact is a last resort for officers when it comes to criminals, it is important for them to be prepared and respond appropriately to those resisting arrest and or those who try to fight them.
The RedMan suit is designed to protect officers from blunt force trauma and different types of strikes from opponents.
“It offers full-body protection so that officers can practice in a force-on-force-type scenario where it’s a lot different than striking a heavy bag that boxers and martial artists typically use,” Watson said, adding that a bag doesn’t hit back. “In this case [the person in the suit] can respond depending on what the [opposing] officer’s actions are, so that if the [opposing] officer does not use enough force, [the officer in the suit] can continue to engage [him or her].”
Watson said the RedMan equipment gives officers constant feedback rather than just teaching them to hit things.
“You get that direct response, where if techniques are done properly that they work and you can take a person into custody,” he said.
Watson said the department will also use the training room and equipment for a quarterly women’s defense class that is offered to the community and women at the Laurel Center.
Police department members and employees from other agencies helped with the gym transition by doing things such as painting the gym, moving equipment and installing mats in the training room — no easy feat, Watson said.
The space in the new gym is almost double what the former weight room was — and, Danielson said, allows officers to do more and different types exercises in the open space.
The enhancements come as the department begins its third year of a fitness initiative that assists officers with enhancing their overall health and wellness — with the goal being for them to have a mixed workout routine.
“That’s what the focus is of the initiative — to get everybody healthy and fit for duty and doing exercises that work on that,” Danielson said.
The gym is open to all of the police department employees.
— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@ winchesterstar.com