Before students arrived back at College of DuPage for the fall session, officials demonstrated the many uses of their new 60,000 square foot Homeland Security Education Center (HSEC), including a street scene that was anything but calm.
The quiet, picturesque street was quickly transformed into a crime scene when local police exchanged gunfire with “armed robbers.”
But the scene was nothing to be alarmed about; it was just a force on force demonstration in College of DuPage’s brand new state of the art Homeland Security Education Center.
“This is the real deal, real cars,” said North Aurora Police Officer Doug Kitner. “There’s not a lot of fake stuff here, it’s really beneficial.”
“Before you pretty much had the standard police academy, it was just classrooms and somewhat generic,” said Bill Lawler, Director of the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy. “We would have to go out into the community and find facilities to try and simulate this.”
The scene was a demonstration from police officers from West Chicago, North Aurora, Braidwood and Bloomingdale. The reenactment was actually based on reality; the infamous 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery where two armed robbers with fully automatic weapons injured 11 police officers and seven civilians. That incident changed the way police train and use automatic weapons.
The officers used real AR-15’s (assault rifle) that eject blank casings and make real noises. The guns have a laser, and much like a high tech game of laser tag, you wear a vest that beeps when you’ve been shot at or killed. The lasers are part of the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, which has been used in the military for 30 years.
The HSEC the only non-military, 4-D facility in the country. But all of the fun serves a bigger, more serious purpose, real life training for students interested in becoming a first responder.
“We’ll be able to put people in the scenario and not only in the scenario, but in the environment,” said Lawler. “You’ll be able to do it safely, and interactively. They’ll be immersed in there, it will make this very real.”
“It’s one thing to teach law enforcement and fire/science and EMT in a classroom on a board using books and the like, it’s something else when you can actually step into a real live laboratory situation and practice the skill sets that you’ve been taught from a book,” said Robert Breuder, President of College of DuPage.
After practicing their skills, students will go up into a classroom where they watch a video recorded from the rooms 29 cameras to see what they did right and wrong.
“I think it will be the maximum learning available, its just that simple,” said Lawler. “I will assure you that the Chicagoland area will have the best-trained officers because of this.”
The HSEC isn’t just for training police officers. Fire/Science and EMS students also have access to a real ambulance and a smoke room.
“We can take them through the scenarios that we’ve never been able to do before,” said Tim Caldwell, Director of the EMS program at COD. “We learned all the same things; we learned what we’re supposed to do, but not how to actually do it and the hands on just a world of difference.”
The facility also has forensic labs, a mock courtroom and will provide anti-terrorism training.
WANT MORE LOCAL NEWS?
Get daily news headlines delivered to your inbox!Sign Up Today!